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The indicators maintained by the European Environment Agency are listed below in chronological order (the most recently updated indicators on top). The EEA indicators are designed to answer key policy questions and to support all phases of environmental policy making, from designing policy frameworks to setting targets, and from policy monitoring and evaluation to communicating to policy-makers and the public.
Three independent long records of global average near-surface (land and ocean) annual temperature show that the decade between 2005 and 2014 was 0.80 °C to 0.84 °C warmer than the pre-industrial average.
Over the decade 2005-2014 the rate of change in global average surface temperature has been between 0.08 and 0.12 °C /decade. This is slower than in previous decades and close to the half of the indicative limits of 0.2°C/decade.
The past decade has seen predominantly La Niña phases in the Pacific Ocean whose influence generally slows the rise in global average temperature.
The Arctic region has warmed significantly more rapidly than the global mean, and this pattern is projected by climate models to continue into the future.
The best estimate by climate models for further rises in global average temperature over this century is from 1.0 to 3.7°C above the period 1971-2000 for the lowest and highest representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios. The uncertainty ranges for the lowest and highest RCP are 0.3–1.7°C and 2.6–4.8°C, respectively.
The EU and UNFCCC target of limiting global average temperature increase to less than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels is projected to be exceeded between 2042 and 2050 by the three highest of the four IPCC scenarios (RCPs).
The average temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2005–2014) was around 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest decade on record. 2014 was the hottest year on record in Europe with mean annual land temperatures 2.11 to 2.16 °C higher than the pre-industrial average.
Across European land area the number of hot days (those exceeding the 90 th percentile of a baseline threshold) have increased by 2% on average per decade since 1960 (from about 7% in the 1960s to 13% over the last decade).
Annual average land temperature over Europe is projected to continue increasing by more than global average temperature over the rest of this century, by around 2.4 °C and 4.1 °C under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively.
During the period 1980-2012 parts of Europe experienced extreme heatwaves (summers of 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2010). Such heat waves are projected to become the norm in the second half of the 21st century under high forcing scenario (RCP8.5).
Emissions of a number of compounds categorised as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - e.g. hexachlorobenzene (HCB, by 92%), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH, by 85%), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, by 75%), dioxins & furans (by 83%), and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, by 61%) - decreased between 1990 and 2012 in the EEA-33 countries. While the majority of countries report that POPs emissions fell during this period, a number report that increased emissions occurred.
In 2012, the most significant sources of emissions for these POPs included ‘Commercial, institutional and households’ (10% of HCB, 32% of dioxins and furans, 16% of PCBs) and ‘Industrial processes’ (70% of HCB, 32% of HCH, 27% of PCBs) sectors.
Since 1990, EU-28 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF 6 emissions have reduced by a significant degree, a major rise can be observed for HFCs emissions, which have almost tripled since 1990.
In 2013, the net supply of F-gases to the EU declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and CO 2 -equivalents. The 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the ‘economic crisis’ year, 2009. EU production appears to have stabilised slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline from 2010 to 2012. However, in 2013 imports rose back to 2011 levels. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. Expressed in CO 2 -equivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped slightly.
Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.
Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants decreased significantly in most EEA-33 member countries between 1990 and 2012:
Nitrogen oxides (NO X ) emissions decreased by 46% (51% in the EU-28);
Sulphur oxides (SO X ) emissions decreased by 75% (84% in the EU-28);
Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions decreased by 56% (60% in the EU-28);
Ammonia (NH 3 ) emissions decreased by 24% (28% in the EU-28); and
Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) emissions decreased by 35% (35% in the EU-28).
The EU-28 as a whole did not meet its 2010 target to reduce emissions of NO X . A further reduction of 2.2% from the 2010 emissions level is required to meet the interim environmental objectives set in the European Union’s 2001 National Emission Ceiling Directive (NECD).
The EU-28 met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of SO X , NH 3 and NMVOC below legally binding targets as specified by the NECD. A number of EU Member States reported emissions above their NECD emission ceilings: nine for NO X , three for NH 3 , and one for NMVOCs. There are no emission ceilings for primary PM 2.5 .
Three additional EEA member countries have emission ceilings for 2010 set in the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). All three countries met the SOx ceiling. Switzerland also met the ceilings for the other three pollutants. Liechtenstein exceeded the NMVOC ceiling. Norway breached two ceilings, for NH 3 and for NOx.
Soil moisture content is already being affected by rising temperatures and changes in precipitation amounts, both of which are evidence of changes in climate.
Since 1951, modelled soil moisture content significantly increased in parts of northern Europe and decreased in the Mediterranean region.
Projections for 2021–2050 show a general change in summer soil moisture content over most of Europe, including significant decreases in the Mediterranean region and increases in the northeastern part of Europe.
Maintaining water-retention capacity and porosity are important to reduce the impacts of intense rainfall and droughts, which are projected to become more frequent and severe.
The modelled results are based on natural factors and disregard artificial drainage and irrigation practices.
The world’s population increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around 7 billion in 2010, and is expected to continue to rise until 2050/2100 under most UN projection variants. Assuming the ‘medium fertility’ projection variant, global population might increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, rising to 10.9 billion by 2100. However, if fertility and mortality rates stay at current levels (i.e. assuming the ‘no change’ projection variant), growth rates would be substantially higher, and the global population could rise to 10.2 billion by 2050 and 19.9 billion by 2100.
Expected global population growth is projected to be largely driven by increases in Asia and particularly in Africa. While the Asian population is expected to peak by 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow strongly and continuously, from about 1 billion today to more than 4 billion by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
The total population of the 28 EU Member States is projected to slightly increase from the current figure of 505 million to 520 million by 2030, and then to decrease in the subsequent decades to some 475 million by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The age structure is projected to change substantially, with an increase of the share of people aged 65 years or older from the current figure of 17% to over 30% by 2050, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network. Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) increased in coverage from 450 000 to 810 000 square kilometres and Special Protected Areas (SPAs) increased from approximately 180 000 to 670 000 square kilometres. Ten countries have designated more than 20% of their territory.
The total ecological footprint for the EU-28 countries increased rapidly during the 1960s and 70s, and has remained relatively constant since the 1980s. The region’s total biocapacity, however, has changed very little since 1961. The picture is similar for the EEA-33 countries.
The pan-European ecological footprint has been increasing almost constantly since 1961, while biocapacity (1) has decreased. This results in an ever larger deficit, with negative consequences for the environment within and outside Europe. (1) The capacity of ecosystems to produce useful biological materials and to absorb waste materials generated by humans, using current management schemes and extraction technologies.
Across the EEA-33 countries, emissions of lead decreased by 89%, mercury by 66% and cadmium by 64% between 1990 and 2012.
Emissions from the road transport sector have decreased by nearly 98%. Nevertheless, the road transport sector still remains an important source of lead, contributing around 12% of total lead emissions in the EEA-33 region. However, since 2004, little progress has been made in reducing emissions further; 97.9% of the total reduction from 1990 emissions of lead had been achieved by 2004.
The manufacturing industry in 11 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) has achieved absolute decoupling of nutrient emissions from economic growth (GVA). A decrease in emissions coupled with a decrease in gross value added (GVA) occurred in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium and Finland. However, in all cases (except Finland), the rate of emissions decrease was greater than that of GVA. An increase in nutrient emissions, accompanying the growth in GVA, was observed in Slovakia and Poland.
These developments arise from different absolute levels of emissions intensities and depend on there being no major changes in data coverage - such as including more facilities in the most recent reporting year despite them already existing in the earliest reporting year - within the countries during the reporting period. It should be noted that, as some industrial emissions may vary considerably from year to year, the comparison of just two selected years might be subject to variations, and not be representative of a consistent trend.
The achievement of absolute decoupling of manufacturing industries' heavy metals emissions from economic growth (GVA) was observed again in 12 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). A decrease in emissions, coupled with a decrease in GVA occurred in the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium. In all cases, the decrease in the rate of emissions was greater than that of GVA (relative decoupling). An increase in emissions, despite a drop in GVA, was observed in Finland and France. Finally, a growth in emissions accompanying economic growth occurred in the manufacturing industry in Hungary.
Given the multiple factors that affect both sectoral GVA and the pollution pressure originating from manufacturing, it is complicated to draw direct relationships between these two variables. Some key descriptors, which could aid in explaining this behaviour, are the structure of the sector (e.g. facility size distribution, production technology, relative proportion reported as E-PRTR releases), the socioeconomic characteristics (e.g. salary levels) of the area and the policy and/or economic measures in place (e.g. treatment requirements, pollution charges, taxes). However, it must be noted that the specific context of each country could result in varying combinations of the factors mentioned and their aggregate effects.
The main pathways for marine non-indigenous species (NIS) introduction in Europe´s seas are shipping (51%) and the Suez Canal (37%). These are followed by aquaculture related activities (17%) and, to a much lesser extent, aquarium trade (3%) and inland canals (2%). This is a pattern observed in all regional seas, except for the Eastern Mediterranean where introductions via the Suez Canal exceed those by shipping.
Trends in pathways show an increasing rate of introductions by shipping and corridors (in particular the Suez canal) since the 1990s, while aquaculture mediated introductions have been decreasing since the 2000s. This can be attributed to the adoption of effective EU regulation. Aquarium trade emerges as a lower but increasing pathway since the 2000s.
Available data shows that the seas around Europe currently harbor 1 416 non-indigenous species (NIS), almost 81% (1 143) of which have been introduced after 1950. These consist mostly of invertebrates (approx. 63%).
The rate of new introductions of NIS is continually increasing with 323 new species recorded since 2000 at pan-European level.
An increase in NIS introductions is observed for all regional seas. The most affected seas are in the Mediterranean, in particular in the Aegean-Levantine Sea. In this region over 160 new species have been recorded from 2000 to 2010.
Marine aquaculture production is increasing in Europe, mostly due to salmon production in Norway. Other types of production are relatively stable since the early 2000s. All aquaculture production in the EU-28 has been equally stable.
In 2012, by far the most cultivated species in Europe was Atlantic salmon, followed by mussels, rainbow trout, European sea bass, gilthead sea bream, oysters and carps, barbels and other cyprinids.
Finfish production accounts for the increase in European aquaculture, while shellfish production has been slowly decreasing since 1999. Aquatic plants production has been emerging since 2007.
The EU fishing fleet displays strong regional differences in terms of its composition, but it is mostly made up of small vessels (59%). There has been a marked decrease in fishing fleet capacity (i.e. number of vessels) between 2004 and 2001 , during which time small vessels decreased at an annual rate of approximately 1% and large vessels at 7% .
Most of the EU fishing effort is deployed by large vessels (74%) with mobile gears, of which the majority (61%) disturbs the seafloor. The decrease in capacity has been followed by a decrease in the effort of large vessels only (over 7% between 2004-2011), while the effort of small vessels has increased by approximately 5%. This is reflected in an overall shift towards gear with less impact on the seafloor.
The observed change of EU fishing effort and the shift towards gear with less impact is indicative of an overall decrease in fishing pressure and impact in European seas between 2004 and 2011.
Approximately 60% of commercial fish landings comes from stocks that are assessed with Good Environmental Status (GES) information. Strong regional differences exist, where the Mediterranean and Black seas remain poorly assessed.
Around 58% of the assessed commercial stocks are not in GES. Only 12% are in GES for both the level of fishing mortality and reproductive capacity. These percentages also vary considerably between regional seas.
The use of commercial fish and shellfish stocks in Europe, therefore, remains largely unsustainable. Nevertheless, important signs of improvement for certain stocks are being recorded in the North-East Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea.
Between 1985 and 2012, 7% of all stations in European seas that reported to the EEA showed decreasing trends in summer chlorophyll concentrations, whereas in 4% of the stations, increasing trends were found. In the majority of the stations (89%), no trends were observed.
Based on available data, chlorophyll concentrations, which are an indicator of eutrophication, are decreasing in the Greater North Sea, Bay of Biscay and Adriatic Sea, but increasing in many parts of the Baltic Sea. No trend assessment was possible for the Black Sea.
Between 1985 and 2012, m ost stations in European Seas that reported to the EEA showed no change in trends of concentrations of Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) or orthophosphate. In addition, a decrease in concentrations was observed for 14% and 13% respectively, while only a minority of stations showed an increase.
These trends mostly refer to stations in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea, however, due to lack of reported data for other regional seas. A vailable data shows nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations are decreasing in the southern North Sea which is an area with a recognised eutrophication problem. In the Baltic Sea, also affected by eutrophication, nitrogen concentrations are decreasing but phosphate concentrations show an increase at some stations.
In 2012, the concentrations of the eight assessed hazardous substances were generally: Low or Moderate for Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and lindane; Moderate for cadmium, mercury, lead, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and 6-Benzylaminopurine BAP; and Moderate or High for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).
A general downward trend was found between 2003 and 2012 in the North-East Atlantic for cadmium, lead, lindane, PCB, DDT and BAP, and also in the Baltic Sea for lindane and PCB. No trends could be calculated for the other regional seas.
Between 1996 and 2012, trends in household spending patterns were mixed. The trend, however, is towards an increasing share of consumption categories with reduced environmental pressures per Euro spent. In addition, almost all consumption categories have also seen reductions in environmental pressure intensities. Together, these two developments are likely to have caused a relative decoupling of environmental pressures from growth in household consumption expenditure.
European economic production and consumption have become less waste intensive, even after the economic downturn since 2008 is considered in the analysis.
From the production side, waste generation from manufacturing in the EU-28 and Norway declined by 25% in absolute terms between 2004 and 2012, despite an increase of 7% in sectoral economic output. Waste generation by the service sector declined by 23% in the same period, despite an increase of 13% in sectoral economic output.
Turning to consumption, total municipal waste generation in EEA countries declined by 2% between 2004 and 2012, despite a 7% increase in real household expenditure.
One of the objectives in EU waste policy is to reduce waste generation in absolute terms, within the overall goal to decouple economic growth from resource use and environmental impacts. Waste prevention efforts across Europe seems to contribute to the waste objectives; with considerable differences between the countries. Wider analysis across different economic sectors within and beyond EU borders will be needed in order to provide more comprehensive conclusions.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 04 Aug 2015, 10:17 PM
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