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EEA-32 Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 15 Sep 2009 Published 15 Feb 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
This content has been archived on 18 Jun 2015, reason: Other (Discontinued indicator)
Indicator codes: APE 004

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) are a collection of organic compounds that differ widely in their chemical composition but display similar behaviour in the atmosphere. NMVOCs are emitted into the atmosphere from a large number of sources including combustion activities, solvent use and production processes. NMVOCs contribute to the formation of ground level (tropospheric) ozone. In addition, certain NMVOC species or species groups such as benzene and 1,3 butadiene are hazardous to human health. Quantifying the emissions of total NMVOCs provides an indicator of the emission trends of the most hazardous NMVOCs.

Tropospheric ozone is an important air pollutant due to its adverse impact on human health. Further details concerning the contribution of NOx to emissions of tropospheric ozone precursors and particulate matter are contained in EEA's Core Set Indicators CSI 002 'Emissions of ozone precursors'.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • The indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs).
  • The indicator also provides information on emissions by sectors: Energy industries; road and other transport; industry (processes and energy); other (energy); fugitive emissions; waste; agriculture and other (non energy).
  • Geographical coverage: EEA-32. The EEA-32 country grouping includes countries of the EU-27 (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) EFTA-4 (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway) and Turkey.
  • Temporal coverage: 1990-2007


ktonnes (1000 tonnes)

Policy context and targets

Context description

A number of policies have been implemented within Europe that either directly or indirectly act to reduce emissions of NMVOCs. These include:

  • The National Emission Ceilings Directive 2001/81/EC (NECD) which entered into force in the European Community in 2001. The NECD sets emission ceilings for four important air pollutants (SO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)) to be achieved from 2010 onwards for each Member State. The ceilings are designed to improve the protection in the Community of the environment and human health against risks of adverse effects arising from acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone. The NECD is presently under review, the European Commission may adopt a proposal for a revised Directive during 2010.
  • The Gothenburg Protocol (1999) to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone. A key objective of the protocol is to regulate emissions on a regional basis within Europe and to protect eco-systems from transboundary pollution by setting emission reduction ceilings to be reached by 2010 for the same 4 pollutants as addressed in the NECD (i.e. SO2, NOx, NH3 and NMVOCs). Overall for the EU Member States, the ceilings set within the Gothenburg protocol are generally either slightly less strict or the same as the emission ceilings specified in the NECD.
  • 1991 Geneva Protocol to the LRTAP Convention on the control of emissions of volatile organic compounds. This protocol entered into force in September 1997 and it required a 30% reduction in VOCs by 1999 from a base year between 1984 and 1990.
  • VOC Solvents Directive (1999/13/EC). This is the main policy instrument for reducing industrial emissions of VOCs within the European Union. It covers a wide range of solvent activities including printing, surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and the manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products. Installations either have to comply with the emission limit values set out in the Directive or with the requirements of a reduction scheme. Existing installations had to comply by the 31st October 2007, with new installations having to comply from the date of commencement of activities.  This Directive has now been amended through Article 13 of the Paints Directive (2004/42/EC).
  • Directive 94/63/EC aims to prevent VOC emissions into the atmosphere during the storage of petrol at terminals and its distribution from terminals to service stations. This is known as Stage 1 petrol vapour recovery. The Commission's proposal for Stage 2 petrol vapour recovery covering emissions associated with the refuelling of petrol cars at service stations expected to be available by the end of 2008. 
  • The Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (96/61/EC) entered into force in 1999.  It aims to prevent or minimise pollution to air, water or land from various industrial sources throughout the European Union. Those installations covered by Annex I of the IPPC Directive are required to obtain authorisation from the authorities to operate. New installations and existing installations, which are subject to 'substantial changes' have been required to meet the requirements of the IPPC Directive since 30th October 1999. Other existing installations must have been brought into compliance by the 30th October 2007. The emission limit values outlined in the permit conditions must be based on best available techniques (BAT). The Commission has been undertaking a review of the IPPC Directive and related legislation on industrial emissions and on the 21st December 2007 adopted a proposal for a Directive on industrial emissions. The proposal recasts seven existing Directives relating to industrial emissions into a single legislative instrument. 
  • The aim of the Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management (the 'Air Quality Framework Directive') is to maintain and improve air quality within the European Community by establishing objectives for ambient air, drawing up common methods and criteria for assessing air quality and obtaining and disseminating information. The second "Daughter" Directive 2000/69/EC sets limit values for benzene concentrations (a NMVOC) to be achieved throughout the community.
  • Since the early 1990s standards on NMVOC emissions from new cars sold in Europe have been in place. This first came about with EU Directive 91/441/EC, which effectively mandated the fitting of three-way catalysts to all new petrol cars to significantly reduce emissions of CO, hydrocarbons (NMVOCs) and NOx. Standards for this Directive, frequently referred to as Euro 1, were followed by Euro 2 standards implemented by Directive 94/12/EC during the mid 1990s. Yet more stringent EU Directives have been put in place to reduce hydrocarbon emissions further, the most recent being (98/69/EC) setting emission limits for petrol cars sold after 2000 and then after 2005 (Euro 3 and 4 standards respectively).
  • Hydrocarbon emissions from diesel vehicles have also been regulated since the early 1990s (since 1988 for heavy duty vehicles) with a succession of more stringent EU Directives. The legislation currently in force for heavy duty vehicles is 2005/55/EC and 2005/78/EC (implementing provisions) which define the emission standard currently in force, Euro IV, as well as the next stage (Euro V) which entered into force in October 2008.
  • Directive 97/68/EC and subsequent amending acts on the emissions of pollutants from internal combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery sets emission standards for hydrocarbons and type approval procedures for engines fitted to non-road mobile machinery.


Emissions of NMVOC are covered by the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD) (2001/81/EC) and the Gothenburg protocol under the United Nations Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (UNECE 1999). The NECD generally involves slightly stricter emission reduction targets than the Gothenburg Protocol for EU-15 countries for the period 1990-2010. The Gothenburg Protocol entered into force on 17 May 2005, after ratification by 16 countries early in 2005.


Table: Percentage reduction (#) required by 2010 from 1990 levels by country for NMVOCs



1990 - 2010: NECD targets (%)

1990 - 2010: CLRTAP Gothenburg Protocol targets (%)













Czech Republic

















































































United Kingdom




# The actual 2010 emission ceilings specified in the NECD and Gothenburg Protocol are expressed as absolute emissions of SO2, NOx, NH3 and NMVOC (in ktonnes). For the purposes of this indicator 1990 is considered as a 'base year' and the percentage change to emissions to meet the ceilings is calculated. Reported emissions for past years may change reflecting e.g. updated and revised emission inventory guidance, and so the % reduction required to meet the CLRTAP and NECD targets as shown here may change slightly in the future. 

* Emissions data not available for Iceland.

Related policy documents

  • 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone
    Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone, amended on 4 May 2012.
  • Directive 2001/81/EC, national emission ceilings
    Directive 2001/81/EC, on nation al emissions ceilings (NECD) for certain atmospheric pollutants. Emission reduction targets for the new EU10 Member States have been specified in the Treaty of Accession to the European Union 2003  [The Treaty of Accession 2003 of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. AA2003/ACT/Annex II/en 2072] in order that they can comply with the NECD.


Methodology for indicator calculation

Indicator is based on officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE/EMEP (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe/Co-operative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmission of air pollutants in Europe) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention), submission 2009. Recommended methodologies for emission inventory estimation are compiled in the EMEP/CORINAIR Atmospheric Emission Inventory guidebook, EEA Copenhagen (EEA, 2009). Base data are available from the EEA Data Service ( and the EMEP web site ( Where necessary, gaps in reported data are filled by ETC/ACC using simple interpolation techniques (see below). The final gap-filled data used in this indicator is available from the EEA Data Service (

Base data, reported in SNAP, draft NFR or NFR are aggregated into the following EEA sector codes to obtain a common reporting format across all countries and pollutants:

  • 'Energy industries': emissions from public heat and electricity generation, oil refining and production of solid fuels;
  • 'Fugitive emissions': Emissions from extraction and distribution of solid fossil fuels and geothermal energy;
  • 'Industry (Energy)': emissions from combustion processes used in the manufacturing industry including boilers, gas turbines and stationary engines;
  • 'Industry (Processes)': emissions derived from non-combustion related processes such as the production of minerals, chemicals and metal production;
  • 'Road transport': light and heavy duty vehicles, passenger cars and motorcycles;
  • 'Off-road transport': railways, domestic shipping, certain aircraft movements, and non-road mobile machinery used in agriculture & forestry;
  • 'Other (energy-related)': emissions principally occurring from fuel combustion in the services and household sectors;
  • 'Other (Non Energy)': non-combustion related emissions mainly in the services and households sectors including activities such as paint application, dry-cleaning and other use of solvents;
  • 'Agriculture': manure management, fertiliser application, field-burning of agricultural wastes
  • 'Waste': incineration, waste-water management;
  • 'Unallocated': The difference between the reported national total and the sum of the sectors reported by a country.

The 'unallocated' sector corresponds to the difference between the reported national total and the sum of the reported sectors for a given pollutant / country / year combination. It can be either negative or positive. Inclusion of this additional sector means that the officially reported national totals do not require adjustment to ensure that they are consistent with the sum of the individual sectors reported by countries.

The following table shows the conversion of Nomenclature for Reporting (NFR) sector codes used for reporting by countries into EEA sector codes:

EEA classification

NFR Emission Source Category

0 National totals

National total

1 Energy Industries


3 Industry (energy)


2 Fugitive emissions


7 Road transport


8 Other transport (non-road mobile machinery)

1A3 (exl 1A3b)

9 Industry processes


4 Agriculture

4 + 5B

5 Waste


6 Other (energy)

1A4a, 1A4b, 1A4b(i), 1A4c(i), 1A5a

10 Other (non-energy)

3 + 7

12 Energy industries (power and heat production)


14 Unallocated

Difference between national total and sum of sectors (1 - 10)

Methodology for gap filling

Methodology of data manipulation: EEA/ETC-ACC gap-filling methodology. To allow trend analysis where countries have not reported data for one or several years, data has been interpolated to derive annual emissions. If the reported data is missing either at the beginning or at the end of the time series period, the emission value has been considered to equal the first (or last) reported emission value. It is recognised that the use of gap-filling can potentially lead to artificial trends, but it is considered unavoidable if a comprehensive and comparable set of emissions data for European countries is required for policy analysis purposes.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

The use of gap-filling for when countries have not reported emissions for one of more years can potentially lead to artificial trends, but it is considered unavoidable if a comprehensive and comparable set of emissions data for European countries is required for policy analysis purposes.

Data sets uncertainty

NMVOC emission estimates in Europe are thought to have an uncertainty of about +/- 30% due in part to the difficulty in obtaining good emission estimates for some sectors and partly due to the absence of good activity data for some sources.  The trend is likely to be more accurate than the individual absolute annual values - the annual values are not independent of each other. 

Overall scoring: (1-3, 1=no major problems, 3=major reservations)

  • Relevancy: 1
  • Accuracy: 2
  • Comparability over time: 2
  • Comparability over space: 2

Rationale uncertainty

This indicator on emissions of NMVOC is produced annually by EEA and is used regularly in its State of the Environment reporting. The uncertainties related to methodology and data sets are therefore of importance. Any uncertainties involved in the calculation and in the data sets need to be accurately communicated in the assessment, to prevent erroneous messages influencing policy actions or processes.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Martin Adams


No owners.


Indicator code
APE 004
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Air pollution Air pollution


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DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)

Related content

Data used

Relevant policy documents

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