The global average concentrations of various greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere continue to increase. The combustion of fossil fuels from human activities and land-use changes are largely responsible for this increase.
The concentration of all GHGs, including cooling aerosols that are relevant in the context of the 2 o C temperature target, reached a value of 435 parts per million (ppm) CO 2 equivalents in 2012, an increase of about 3 ppm compared to 2011. As such the concentration continued to close on the threshold of 450 ppm.
In 2012, t he concentration of the six GHGs included in the Kyoto Protocol had reached 449 ppm CO 2 equivalent, an increase of 171 ppm (around +62%) compared to pre-industrial levels.
The concentration of CO 2 , the most important GHG, reached a level of 393 ppm by 2012, and further increased to 396 ppm in 2013. This is an increase of approximately 118 ppm (around +42%) compared to pre-industrial levels.
Concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total ammonium have decreased in European rivers in the period 1992 to 2012 (Fig. 1), mainly due to general improvement in waste water treatment.
Since 2005, average nitrate concentrations in European groundwater have declined and in 2011, the mean concentration had almost returned to the 1992 level.
The average nitrate concentration in European rivers declined by 0.03 milligrams per liter of nitrogen (mg N/l) (0.8%) per year over the period 1992 to 2012.
The decline in nitrate concentration reflects the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate, as well as improvements in wastewater treatment.
Average orthophosphate concentration in European rivers has decreased markedly over the last two decades (0.003 milligrams per liter of phosphorous (mg P/l) or 2.1% per year).
Also, average lake phosphorus concentration decreased over the period 1992-2012 (0.0004 mg P/l, or 0.8% per year).
The decrease in phosphorus concentration reflects both improvements in wastewater treatment and the reduction of phosphorus in detergents.
Understanding and awareness of biodiversity have increased slightly since 2007. Citizens are also more aware of the threats and challenges facing biodiversity, but change in levels of awareness is slow. In 2013, more than two-thirds of EU citizens had heard of biodiversity, but only 44% know the meaning of the word. This is, however, 10% more than in 2007.
62% of EU citizens (against 58% in 2010) very much agree that it is important to halt biodiversity loss because our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity (TNS, 2013).
Since 2000, an overall increase of deadwood has been observed in several countries, a sign of more biodiversity-friendly management practices, but also of large disturbances such as storms.
The ratio of felling to increment is relatively stable and remains under 80% for most of the countries across Europe. This utilisation rate has allowed the forest stock to increase.
The total area of nationally-designated protected areas in Europe  has increased over time and amounted to over 1,1 million square kilometres in 39 European countries in 2014. With more than 95 000 sites, Europe still has more protected areas than any other region in the world.
The total area of nationally designated protected areas currently covers about 21% of terrestrial territory and inland waters, although further expansion of the marine network is required to meet targets.
 A “Nationally designated area” is an area designated by a national designation instrument based on national legislation. If a country has included the sites designated under the EU Birds and Habitats directive in its legislation, the Natura 2000 sites of this country are included in the figure.
Between 2000 and 2006 the highest absolute increase in ecosystem coverage occurred in transitional woodland, mostly at the expense of woodland and forest. A decrease was observed in vulnerable ecosystems such as wetlands, heathland and sparsely vegetated land. Agricultural land coverage also decreased, with the majority of changes caused by urbanisation and intensification of agriculture, affecting, particularly, grassland and agricultural mosaics. Urban areas continued to increase dramatically. Rivers, lakes and coastal areas increased to a minor extent.
Since 1990, common bird populations have decreased by around 12% in 27 European countries. The decline of common farmland birds was more pronounced at 30%, whereas common forest birds declined by 8%.
Grassland butterflies have also declined dramatically (50%) since 1990 in 19 European countries and this reduction shows no sign of levelling off.
Europe has considerable areas of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland, which provide habitats for a wide range of species. Such areas are under threat, however, from both the intensification of farming and land abandonment. The mere presence of HNV farmland is not proof of sustainable management but promoting conservation and sustainable farming practices in these areas is crucial for biodiversity.
Organic farming has developed rapidly since the beginning of the 1990s and continues to do so. Between 2002 and 2011, the total area under organic agriculture in the EU-27 increased by 6% per year and in 2011 amounted to an estimated 5.4% of the utilised agricultural area (UAA) (EC, 2013).
Following the turbulence of the late 2000s, global GDP is projected to grow steadily up to 2050. Rapid growth is projected for China, with it overtaking the USA as the biggest single economy before 2020. India is also expected to grow rapidly surpassing the EU before 2050.
Since 2000, the EU28 final energy intensity has decreased by 16% at an annual average rate of 2%/year. Since 2005, final energy intensity decreased by 11.9% at an annual rate of 1.8%/year, showing an absolute decoupling, between economic growth and final energy consumption. Since 2005, final energy intensity in industry, services and agriculture sectors decreased by 2.5%/year, 2.0%/year and 1.8%/year, respectively. In the transport sector the final energy intensity has decreased by 1.5%/year since 2005. In the household sector the final energy intensity decreased by 1.1%/year since 2005. Since 2000, the final energy intensity in non-EU EEA countries has decreased by 14% at an annual average rate of 2%/year. The annual decrease is slightly smaller than in the EU-28 due to an increase of the industry energy intensity in Turkey and Iceland.
Between 1990 and 2012 the efficiency of electricity and heat production in public conventional thermal power plants in the EU28 improved from 42.2% in 1990 to 47.6% in 2012. In the non-EU EEA countries, this efficiency improved from 34.4% in 1990 to 42.1% in 2012. Between 2005 and 2012, the efficiency in public conventional thermal power plants stabilized more or less in both the EU28 and the non-EU EEA countries. An efficiency improvement in the EU28 of about 2 percentage points between 2005 and 2010 is attributed to an increased use of natural gas. Between 2010 an 2012 the efficiency in the EU28 dropped by the same amount, due to increased use of coal in stead of gas in combination with the use of existing, low efficiency coal plants.
The efficiency of electricity and heat production from autoproducers conventional thermal power plants in the EU and non-EU EEA countries decreased between 2005 and 2012 by about 5 percentage points, from about 60% in 2005 to about 55% in 2012.
River and coastal flooding have affected millions of people in Europe in the last decade. They affect human health through drowning, heart attacks, injuries, infections, exposure to chemical hazards, psychosocial consequences as well as disruption of services, including health services.
Observed increases in heavy precipitation and extreme coastal high-water events have increased the risk of river and coastal flooding in many European regions.
In the absence of additional adaptation, the projected increases in extreme precipitation events and in sea level would substantially increase the health risks associated with river and coastal flooding in Europe.
Over the period 1990-2012, final energy efficiency increased by 25% in EU28 countries at an annual average rate of 1.3%/year, driven by improvements in the industrial sector (1.7%/year) and households (1.5%/year). Half of the efficiency gains achieved through technological innovation in the household sector have been offset by increasing number of electrical appliances and larger homes. One third of total savings in space heating in the residential sector is due to new building codes, since a building built in 2012 consumed approximately 40% less energy than one built in 1990.
Energy Trends in Europe
In 2012, the final energy consumption reached 1,104 Mtoe at EU-level (see also ENER 16). Buildings (households and services) consumed almost 40% of final energy consumption in 2012 (of which 26% for households), transport 32% (+6 points compared to 1990) followed by industry with 26% (-8 points compared to 1990) and agriculture with 2%.
The EU28 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which accounted in 2012 for 74.6% of the total gross inland energy consumption compared to renewables at only 11%. The share of fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil)  in the total gross inland energy consumption of the EU28 declined from 83.0% in 1990 to 74.6% in 2012. at an annual rate of 0.3 % per year. Between 2005 and 2012, the share of fossil fuels in gross inland energy consumption decreased slightly faster at 0.6 % per year.
The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels from non-EU countries remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2012. In 2012, EU28 net import of fossil fuels was 53.4% of its total gross inland energy consumption with 58.2% for oil, 28.3% for gas and 13.6% for solid fuels.
In 2012 only 71.4% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 reached the end users. Between 1990 and 2012, energy losses in transformation and distribution were about 29% of total gross inland energy consumption and did not show a significant trend.
The average efficiency of electricity and heat production of conventional thermal power stations and district heating plants in the EU28 improved over the period 1990 and 2012 by 4.8 percentage points to reach 49.4% in 2012. The main increase was seen between 1990 and 2010 with an increase of 6.3 percentage points (from 44.6% in 1990 to 50.9% in 2010). The improvement before 2010 was due to the closure of old inefficient plants, improvements in existing technologies, often combined with a switch from coal power plants to more efficient combined cycle gas turbines. Between 2010 and 2012, there was a slight fall in the efficiency of electricity and heat production from conventional thermal power plants and district heating plants of 1.5 percentage points (from 50.9% in 2010 to 49.4% in 2012) because of increased power production from coal and lignite and due to lower heat production.
 Definitions are provided in the meta data.
Primary energy consumption in EU 28 in 2012 was almost the same as in 1990 and amounted to 1585 Mtoe. Between 2005-2012, primary energy consumption in the EU28 decreased by 7.3% particularly due to the economic recession and energy efficiency improvements.
Primary energy consumption in the non-EU EEA countries doubled from 71 Mtoe in 1990 to 146 Mtoe in 2012. The main reason for the difference in the trend for this group of countries was the large increase in primary energy consumption in Turkey and, to a lesser extent, in Norway.
Fossil fuels (including non-renewable waste) continued to dominate primary energy consumption in EU28, but their share declined from 82.1% in 1990 to 73.9% in 2012. The share of renewable energy sources more than doubled over the period, from 4.5% in 1990 to 11.6% in 2012, increasing at an average annual rate of 4.4%/year. The share of nuclear energy in gross inland energy consumption increased slightly from 13.1% in 1990 to 14.4% in 2012.
Over the period 1990 and 2012 final energy consumption in EU28 increased by 2.3% (6.5% in EEA countries). Between 2005 and 2012 the final energy consumption in the EU28 decreased by 7.1% (5.0% in EEA countries). The services sector is the only sector where the energy consumption increased by 3.5% over the period 2005-2012. B etween 2005 and 2012, t he energy consumption dropped by 14% in industry, 5.1% in transport and 4% in households. The implementation of energy efficiency policies and the economic recession played an important part in the reduction of energy consumption. On average, each person in the EEA countries used 2.1 tonnes of oil equivalent to meet their energy needs in 2012.
Fossil fuels continue to dominate the electricity mix in 2012, being responsible for almost one half (48%) of all gross electricity generation in the EU28. Nuclear energy sources came second, contributing more than one quarter of all gross electricity generation in 2012 (27%). However, the share of electricity generated from renewable sources is in rapid progression and reached almost one quarter of all gross electricity generation in the EU28 in 2012 (24%), having doubled its share since 1990 (see ENER30 for information on renewable electricity consumption).
Final electricity consumption  increased by 29% in the EU28 since 1990, at an average rate of around 1.2% per year (see ENER16 ). In the EU28, the strongest growth was observed in the services sector (3.0%/year), followed by households (1.4%/year) and industry (0.9%/year). In non-EU EEA countries, the growth in electricity consumption was larger and reached 3.6%/year, driven by the rapid growth in Turkey.
 Final electricity consumption covers the total consumption of electricity by all end-use sectors plus electricity imports and minus exports.
Passenger transport demand in the EU-28 decreased by nearly 1.5 % between 2011 and 2012, following a slight downward trend since its peak in 2009, broken only by a 1 % increase in 2011. Car passenger travel remains the dominant mode, with a share well above 70 %. Air transport grew by 10 % in 2011, but stabilised in 2012. However, it retained its pre-crisis modal share (9 %). Rail passengers’ share has grown slightly in recent years, and accounted for 7 % in 2012, after the slight increase in the last two years (2011 and 2012).
Land passenger transport demand in non-EU-28 countries kept growing overall in 2012, with a 1.7 % growth in Iceland, and 1.5 % in Switzerland. Norwegian land transport demand figures remain stable, with car and rail demand growth (1.3 % and 3.6 % respectively) offsetting a 20.2 % loss in rail. The quick deterioration of rail passenger transport in Turkey (-22 % in 2012) was accompanied by a significant increase (6.2 % in 2012) in total land transport demand, sustained by a 10.5 % growth in car travel. It is worth noting that, according to Eurocontrol (Eurocontrol, 2014), Turkey is also the main driver of air passenger traffic growth in the European skies.