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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / EEA-32 Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions / EEA-32 Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions (APE 002) - Assessment published Feb 2010

EEA-32 Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions (APE 002) - Assessment published Feb 2010

Generic metadata

Topics:

Air pollution Air pollution (Primary topic)

Environment and health Environment and health

Industry Industry

Tags:
air quality | baseline | nox | air emissions | nitrogen | air pollution indicators | pollution
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • APE 002
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2010
 
Contents
 

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

Key messages

  • EEA-32 emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased by 31% between 1990 and 2007. In 2007, the most significant sources of NOx emissions were the road transport sector (36%), combustion processes from within the energy industries sector (21%) and industrial energy use (15%) and the non-road transport sector (16%).
  • The largest reduction of emissions since 1990 has occurred in the road transport sector. These reductions have been achieved despite the general increase in activity within this sector since the early 1990s and have primarily been achieved as a result of fitting three-way catalysts to petrol fuelled vehicles. In the electricity/energy production sector reductions have also occurred, in these instances as a result of measures such as the introduction of combustion modification technologies (such as use of low NOx burners), implementation of flue-gas abatement techniques (e.g. NOx scrubbers and selective (SCR) and selective non-catalytic (SNCR) reduction techniques) and fuel-switching from coal to gas.
  • The National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) specifies NOx emission ceilings for Member States that must be met by 2010. In general, the newer Member States have made substantially better progress towards meeting their respective NOx ceilings than the older Member States of the EU-15. Eleven of the twelve post-2004 Member States have already reduced emissions beyond what is required under the NECD, or are very close to doing so (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). In contrast, only one EU-15 Member State (Portugal) has emissions within its respective national ceiling. Many Member States therefore must make significant cuts to NOx emissions in the immediate coming years if they are to meet their obligations under the NECD.
  • Environmental context: NOx 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. It is NO2 that is associated with adverse affects on human health, as at high concentrations it can cause inflammation of the airways. NO2 also contributes to the formation of secondary particulate aerosols and tropospheric ozone in the atmosphere - both are important air pollutants due to their adverse impacts on human health.

Change in emissions of nitrogen oxides compared with the 2010 NECD and Gothenburg protocol targets (EEA member countries)

Note: The reported change in nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) for each country, 1990-2008, in comparison with the 2010 NECD and Gothenburg protocol targets.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Distance-to-target for EEA member countries

Note: Data are for NOx emissions. The 'distance to target' results are shown in green (countries need to do more to be on track to meet their ceiling in 2010) and purple (countries are on track to meet their ceiling in 2010).

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2009 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE LRTAP Convention, the EU NEC Directive and EU-MM/UNFCCC.

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

EEA-32 NOx emissions have decreased by 31% between 1990 and 2007. The majority of EEA-32 countries have reported lower emissions of NOx in 2007 compared to 1990. The exceptions to this are Austria (+14% increase between 1990 and 2007), Cyprus (+24%), Greece (+25%), Malta (20%), Portugal (+2%), Spain (+20%) and Turkey (85%).

In general, the newer Member States of the European Union have made substantially better progress towards meeting their respective NOx ceilings than the older EU-15 Member States. Eleven of the twelve post-2004 Member States have already reduced emissions beyond what is required under the NECD, or are very close to doing so (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). In contrast, only one EU-15 Member State (Portugal) has emissions within its respective national ceiling.

Many Member States are not considered to be on track towards meeting their obligations under the NECD. In particular Austria, Spain, Ireland, Malta, France, Belgium and Greece must still make significant cuts to NOx emissions in the immediate coming years if they are to meet their obligations under the NECD. Emissions have actually increased in Austria (+14%), Cyprus (+24%), Greece (+25%), Malta (20%), Portugal (+2%) and Spain (+20%) during the period 1990 to 2007, despite all countries having obligations to reduce emissions under the NECD and Gothenburg Protocol.

The EFTA-4 (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and CC-3 (Croatia, FYR of Macedonia and Turkey) countries are not members of the European Union and hence have no emission ceilings set under the NECD. However, Switzerland and Norway have ratified the Gothenburg Protocol, requiring them to reduce their emissions to the agreed ceiling specified in the protocol by 2010. Switzerland is close to meeting its Gothenburg Protocol ceiling, whilst Norway, which has not yet met its national ceiling still must make a significant reduction to NOx emissions.

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

Emissions by sector of nitrogen oxides - 2008 (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by different sectors to emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Change in nitrogen oxides emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2008 (EEA member countries)

Note: Percentage change in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2008.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Contribution to total change in nitrogen oxides emissions for each sector (EEA member countries)

Note: The contribution made by each sector to the total change in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions between 1990 and 2008.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Reductions of NOx have occurred in all economic sectors. The three sectors responsible for the vast majority of the decline in NOx emissions are 'road transport' (contributing 46% of the total reduction in NOx emissions reported by countries), 'energy industries' (contributing 28%), and 'industry (energy)' (contributing 9%).

Significant reductions have occurred in the 'road transport' sector since the early 1990s (36% reduction between 1990 and 2007). This has been achieved despite the general increase in activity within this sector over the period. The emission reductions have primarily been achieved as a result of fitting catalysts to vehicles (driven by the legislative 'Euro' standards). However, across Europe there is also an increasing awareness of the contribution made to NOx pollutant emissions by national and international ship traffic (a more detailed discussion of this issue is contained in the TERM indicator fact sheet TERM03 - Transport emissions of air pollutants).

Emissions of NOx have also declined in the 'energy industries' (21% reduction between 1990 and 2007). In the electricity/energy production sector this has been achieved through the implementation of measures such as combustion modification, introduction of flue-gas abatement techniques and a fuel-switching from coal to gas. One of the most common forms of combustion modification is to use low NOx burners, which typically can reduce NOx emissions by up to 40%. Flue gas treatment techniques (e.g. NOx scrubbers and selective (SCR) and selective non-catalytic (SNCR) reduction techniques) can also be used to remove NOx from the flue gases. Emissions of NOx are higher from coal-fired power plants than from gas-fired plants as a result of coal containing significant amounts of nitrogen (unlike gas) and their less efficient combustion processes.

The newer Member States of the European Union have in a number of cases also undergone significant economic structural changes since the early 1990s which has led to a general decline in certain activities which previously contributed to high levels of NOx emissions e.g. heavy industry and the closure of older inefficient power plants.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Martin Adams

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100