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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Ammonia (NH3) emissions / Ammonia (NH3) emissions (APE 003) - Assessment published Dec 2012

Ammonia (NH3) emissions (APE 003) - Assessment published Dec 2012

Indicator Assessment Created 26 Sep 2012 Published 20 Dec 2012 Last modified 05 Dec 2013, 06:47 AM

Generic metadata


Air pollution Air pollution (Primary topic)

Agriculture Agriculture

Environment and health Environment and health

air quality | air pollution indicators | air emissions | nh3 | csi | ammonia | pollution
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • APE 003
Temporal coverage:
1990-2010, 2020
Geographic coverage:
EEA Member Countries (EEA32), Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Key policy question: What progress is being made in reducing emissions of NH3?

Key messages

    • EEA-32 emissions of NH3 have declined by 28% between the years 1990 and 2010. Agriculture was responsible for 94% of NH3 emissions in 2010.
    • The reduction in emissions within the agricultural sector is primarily due to a reduction in livestock numbers (especially cattle) since 1990, changes in the handling and management of organic manures and from the decreased use of nitrogenous fertilisers. The reductions achieved in the agricultural sector have been marginally offset by the increase in annual emissions over this period in the road-transport sector, and to a lesser extent the 'Solvent and product use' and 'Non-road transport' sectors.
    • All but two of the EU-27 Member States reported 2010 national NH3 emissions under NECD below the level of the 2010 emission ceilings set in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD)[1]. Emissions in 2010 for two of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) were also below the level of the respective 2010 ceilings.
    • Environmental context: NH3 contributes to acid deposition and eutrophication. The subsequent impacts of acid deposition can be significant, including adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems in rivers and lakes and damage to forests, crops and other vegetation. Eutrophication can lead to severe reductions in water quality with subsequent impacts including decreased biodiversity, changes in species composition and dominance, and toxicity effects. NH3 also contributes to the formation of secondary particulate aerosols, an important air pollutant due to its adverse impacts on human health.

[1] Emissions data reported by EU member states under NECD is used for comparison with NECD ceilings, and data reported under CLRTAP is used for all other calculations unless otherwise stated. 2010 emissions reported under NECD in 2012 by 11 member states differed from that reported under CLRTAP.

Change in ammonia (NH3) emissions compared with the 2010 NECD and Gothenburg protocol targets (EEA member countries)

Note: The reported change in ammonia (NH3) emissions for each country, 1990-2010 in comparison with the 2010 NECD and 2020 Gothenburg protocol targets.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Distance-to-target for EEA member countries

Note: The distance-to-target indicator shows how current NH3 emissions compare to a linear emission reduction 'target-path' between 2010 emission levels and 2020 Gothenburg emission ceilings for each country. Negative percentage values indicate the current emissions in a country are below the linear target path; positive values show that current emission lie above a linear target path to 2020.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

EEA-32 ammonia emissions have decreased by 28% between 1990 and 2010.

In general, the 27 EU Member States have made excellent progress in reducing emissions of ammonia, and 25 reported 2010 emissions under NECD which were below the level of their respective 2010 emission ceilings. The remaining countries, Finland and Spain, require further reductions in emissions of 17% and 5% respectively in order to meet their continuing obligation under the NECD. As indicated in Fig. 2, Denmark reported 2010 emissions under CLRTAP which were above the level of their NECD ceiling, however emissions reported under NECD were lower than their 2010 ceiling.

Finland reported emissions for 2010 which were significantly higher than their NECD ceiling and, although emissions reported under CLRTAP reduced by 6% between 1990 and 2000, their emissions have remained largely stable since 2000. Conversely, ammonia emissions in Spain have risen by around 17% since 1990, although a reduction equivalent to 3% of 1990 emissions has been reported from 2000 to 2010.

Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey are not members of the European Union and hence have no emission ceilings set under the NECD. Norway and Switzerland have ratified the UNECE LRTAP Convention's Gothenburg Protocol, requiring them to reduce their emissions to the agreed ceiling specified in the protocol by 2010. Liechtenstein has also signed, but not ratified the protocol. Whilst Norway and Switzerland reported 2010 emissions below the level of their 2010 ceiling under the Gothenburg Protocol, emissions in Lichtenstein were above the level of their 2010 ceiling having risen significantly between 2000 and 2009, however a 9% reduction in emissions was reported between 2009 and 2010.

The NECD protocol is currently being reviewed, as part of the implementation of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution, but a proposal for a revised directive is presently on hold until 2013. A revision of the Gothenburg protocol was published in June 2012, and proposed percentage emission reductions from 2005 levels to be met by 2020 for the four already regulated substances (NOX, NMVOC, SO2 and NH3) and in addition for primary emissions of PM2.5. Existing emission ceilings for 2010 have been extended to 2020 such that all countries have additional obligations to maintain emission levels below their 2010 ceilings, or to further reduce emissions if they have not yet met these ceilings.

Ten of the EU-27 Member States have already met the 2020 targets proposed under the Gothenburg protocol, and all except eight of the remaining countries are on track to reduce emissions to their ceiling by or before 2020. Of these countries however, only Latvia reported 2010 emissions which were more than 10% of their 2005 total over the linear target path to their 2020 target.

Specific policy question: How do different sectors and processes contribute to emissions of NH3?

Sector share of ammonia emissions (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by different sectors to emissions of ammonia in 2010.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Change in ammonia emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2010 (EEA member countries)

Note: Percentage change in ammonia (NH3) emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2010.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Contribution to total change in ammonia (NH3) emissions for each sector (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by each sector to the total change in ammonia (NH3) emissions between 1990 and 2010.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

The agricultural sector remains the major source of NH3 emissions; despite emissions falling by 29% since 1990, agriculture contributed 95% of total emissions in 1990, and 94% in 2010.

These emissions derive mainly from the decomposition of urea in animal wastes and uric acid in poultry wastes. Emissions depend on the animal species, age, weight, diet, housing systems, waste management and storage techniques. The majority of the reduction in emissions is due to the combination of reduced livestock numbers across Europe (especially cattle), and the lower use of nitrogenous fertilisers. NH3 emissions have also declined in EEA-32 countries outside the European Union between 1990 and 2010. Again this is primarily due to reductions which have occurred in the agricultural sector as a result of decreasing animal numbers.

Emissions from road transport, though relatively small, have risen from 1990 levels as a result of the increasing use of three-way catalytic converters in the vehicle fleet; these release NH3 as a result of an unwanted reaction involving hydrogen which reduces NO to NH3. However emissions have fallen since 2000, and are projected to fall in the future as the second generation of catalysts, which emit lower levels of NH3 than the first generation catalysts, penetrate the vehicle fleet.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Martin Adams


EEA Management Plan

2012 1.1.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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