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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / EEA-32 Sulphur dioxide SO2 emissions / EEA-32 Sulphur dioxide SO2 emissions (APE 001) - Assessment published Feb 2010

EEA-32 Sulphur dioxide SO2 emissions (APE 001) - Assessment published Feb 2010

Generic metadata

Topics:

Air pollution Air pollution (Primary topic)

Energy Energy

Environment and health Environment and health

Tags:
air pollution indicators | so2 | air quality | air emissions | pollution
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • APE 001
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2010
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: What progress is being made in reducing emissions of SO2?

Key messages

  • EEA-32 emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) have decreased by 69% between 1990 and 2007. In 2007, the most significant source of SO2 emissions was the energy industries sector (69%), followed by emissions occurring from 'Other (Non Energy)' (20%) and industrial energy use (12%).
  • The reduction in emissions since 1990 has been achieved as a result of a combination of measures, including fuel-switching in energy-related sectors away from high sulphur-containing solid and liquid fuels to low sulphur fuels such as natural gas, the fitting of flue gas desulphurisation abatement technology in industrial facilities and the impact of European Community directives relating to the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels.
  • Seventeen of the EU-27 Member States have already reduced their national SO2 emissions below the level of the emission ceilings set in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), while a number of others are close to meeting their ceilings.  However, a small number of Member States still need to make significant further reductions in order to meet their respective ceilings under the NECD.
  • Environmental context: Sulphur dioxide is emitted when fuels containing sulphur are combusted. It is a pollutant which contributes to acid deposition which in turn can lead to potential changes occurring in soil and water quality. 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. SO2 emissions also contribute to formation of particulate matter in the atmosphere, an important air pollutant in terms of its adverse impact on human health.

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

Note: Data are for sulphur dioxide (SO2). Gothenburg protocol targets are shown for the non-EU countries (e.g. Switzerland and Norway).

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

Distance to target for EEA member countries - Sulphur dioxide

Note: Data are for sulphur dioxide (SO2). 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

In general strong progress in reducing SO2 emissions has been made by countries; EEA-32 emissions of SO2 have decreased by 69% between 1990 and 2007. Within the EEA-32 group of countries, all have reported lower emissions in 2007 compared to 1990 except Greece (+12%), Malta (16%), Turkey (+20%) and Iceland (199%).

Seventeen of the EU-27 Member States have already reduced their national SO2 emissions below the level of the emission ceilings set in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). The Member States which have already achieved their ceilings are: Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.

A number of other Member States reported SO2 emissions for the year 2007 that were close to their respective ceilings under the NECD. These countries are considered well on track towards meeting their emission ceilings in 2010.

However, a small number of Member States still require relatively significant reductions in SO2 emissions to be made if they are to meet their 2010 ceilings under the NECD. These Member States include Greece, Malta and Spain. 

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. Both countries have already met its Gothenburg Protocol ceiling.  

Specific policy question: How do different sectors and processes contribute to emissions of SO2?

Sector share of sulphur dioxide emissions (EEA member countries)

Note: Data are for sulphur dioxide. Pie chart showing sectors' share of emissions in the total emissions (EEA's sector classification).

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

Change in sulphur dioxide emissions for each sector between 1990 and 2007 (EEA member countries)

Note: Bar chart showing percentage change between 1990 and 2007 of sulphur dioxide emissions. Detail is shown by sector (EEA's sector classification).

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

Contribution to total change in sulphur dioxide emissions for each sector (EEA member countries)

Note: Bar chart showing sector contribution to total emissions changes between 1990 and 2007.

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

Specific assessment

Substantial SO2 emission reductions have been made across a number of sectors including: road transport (95% reduction between 1990 and 2007), 'other energy' (80%), 'industry energy' (76%) and 'energy industries' (63% between 1990 and 2007).

The 'energy industries' sector (encompassing activities such as power and heat generation) is responsible for the largest reduction (in absolute terms) of emissions, contributing more than 53% of the total reduction in SO2 emissions reported by countries. Nevertheless, despite this significant reduction, this single sector remains the most significant source of SO2 in the EEA-32 region. Across Europe there is also an increasing awareness of the contribution made to SO2 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).

A combination of measures has led to the reductions in SO2 emissions. This includes fuel-switching from high-sulphur solid (e.g. coal) and liquid (e.g. heavy fuel oil) fuels to low sulphur fuels (such as natural gas) for power and heat production purposes within the 'energy industries', industry and domestic sectors, improvements in energy efficiency and the installation of flue gas desulphurisation equipment in new and existing industrial facilities. The implementation of several directives within the EU limiting the sulphur content of fuel quality has also contributed to the decrease.

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 significantly to high levels of sulphur 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