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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Emissions of acidifying substances (version 1)

Emissions of acidifying substances (version 1)

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Contents
 

Justification for indicator selection

Emissions of acidifying substances cause damage to human health, ecosystems, buildings and materials (corrosion). The effects associated with each pollutant depend on its potential to acidify and the properties of the ecosystems and materials. The deposition of acidifying substances still often exceeds the critical loads of ecosystems across Europe.

The indicator supports assessment of progress towards implementation of the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) and the EU Directive on National Emission Ceilings (NECD) (2001/81/EC).

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

The indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of acidifying substances: Nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and sulphur dioxide, each weighted by their acidifying potential.

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).

Units

ktonnes (acidifying equivalent)

Policy context and targets

Context description

Emission ceiling targets for NOx, SO2 and NH3 are specified in both the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) [4] and the Gothenburg protocol under the United Nations Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (UNECE 1999). Emission reduction targets for the new EU-12 Member States have been specified in a consolidated version of the NECD for the EU-25 [1] which was adopted by the European Community after the accession of the EU-10 Member States. In addition, the consolidated NECD also includes emission ceilings for Bulgaria and Romania whose targets have been defined in their respective Accession treaties [2].

1. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/pdf/necd_consolidated.pdf

2. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/pdf/eu27_nat_emission_ceilings_2010.pdf

3. UNECE (1999). Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary air pollution (LRTAP Convention) to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1 December 1999.

4. Directive 2001/81/EC, on national emissions ceilings (NECD) for certain atmospheric pollutants.

Targets

Emissions of NOx, SOx and NMVOCs are covered by the EU National Emission 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.

Table 1. Percentage reduction required by 2010 from 1990 levels by country, for emissions of ozone precursors NOx and NMVOCs (emission targets weighted by ozone formation potential).

Country group

Country

NECD Targets 1990 - 2010

LRTAP Convention Gothenburg Protocol Targets 1990 - 2010

EU-15

Austria

-31%

-30%

EU-15

Belgium

-56%

-54%

EU-15

Denmark

-56%

-56%

EU-15

Finland

-48%

-46%

EU-15

France

-41%

-40%

EU-15

Germany

-74%

-73%

EU-15

Greece

7%

9%

EU-15

Ireland

-36%

-36%

EU-15

Italy

-51%

-51%

EU-15

Luxembourg

-35%

-35%

EU-15

Netherlands

-54%

-54%

EU-15

Portugal

-19%

-11%

EU-15

Spain

-46%

-45%

EU-15

Sweden

-35%

-35%

EU-15

United Kingdom

-70%

-69%

NewEU-12

Bulgaria

-38%

-36%

NewEU-12

Cyprus

30%

 

NewEU-12

Czech Republic

-77%

-75%

NewEU-12

Estonia

-47%

 

NewEU-12

Hungary

-43%

-39%

NewEU-12

Latvia

-4%

5%

NewEU-12

Lithuania

-19%

-19%

NewEU-12

Malta

-15%

 

NewEU-12

Poland

-43%

-43%

NewEU-12

Romania

2%

2%

NewEU-12

Slovakia

-66%

-66%

NewEU-12

Slovenia

-66%

-66%

 

EU-27

-51%

-53%

EFTA-4

Liechtenstein

-27%

-20%

EFTA-4

Norway

-17%

-26%

EFTA-4

Switzerland

-33%

-28%

CC3

Turkey

27%

-85%

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.
  • 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.

Key policy question

What progress is being made in reducing emissions of acidifying pollutants across Europe?

Specific policy question

How do different sectors and processes contribute to emissions of acidifying pollutants?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Base data is available from http://webdab.emep.int/ and from the EEA dataservice (http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/). Base data, reported in NFR are converted into the following EEA sector codes to obtain a common reporting format across all countries and pollutants:

 

-          Energy industry: Emissions from public heat and electricity generation

-          Fugitive emissions: Emissions from extraction and distribution of solid fossil fuels and geothermal energy

-          Industry (Energy): relates to emissions from combustion processes used in the manufacturing industry including boilers, gas turbines and stationary engines

-          Industry (Processes): Emissions from production processes

-          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;

-          Agriculture: manure management, fertiliser application, field-burning of agricultural wastes

-          Waste: incineration, waste-water management.

-          Other (energy-related) covers energy use principally in the services and household sectors

-          Other (Non Energy): Emissions from solvent and other product use.

 

The current Nomenclature for Reporting (NFR) reporting format used by countries includes 103 separate emission categories. The following table shows how these NFR categories are aggregated into EEA sector codes:

 EEA Code

EEA classification

NFR Emission Source Categories

0

National totals

National Total

1

Energy industries

1A1

3

Industry (Energy)

1A2

2

Fugitive emissions

1B

7

Road transport

1A3b

8

Other transport (non-road mobile machinery)

1A3 (excl 1A3b) + sectors mapped to 8 in table below

9

Industry (Processes)

2

4

Agriculture

4 + 5B

5

Waste

6

6

Other (Energy)

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

10

Other (non-energy)

3 + 7

14

Unallocated

Difference between NT and sum of sectors (1-10)

12

Energy Industries (Power Production 1A1a)

1A1a

 

Where reported data from countries is incomplete, simple gap-filling techniques are used in order to obtain a consistent time-series (see following section). To obtain emission values for the acidifying substances, the gap-filled emission values are multiplied by an acidifying potential factor, (de Leeuw, 2002). The factors are NOx 0.02174, SO2 0.03125 and NH3 0.05882. Results are expressed in acidification equivalents ktonnes. For the main indicator trend graph, emissions are shown indexed to 1990 values (1990 emission =100). The sectoral shares are the share of the specific sector relative to the sum of all sectors for a given year. 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 they are consistent with the sum of the individual sectors reported by countries.

Methodology for gap filling

To allow trend analysis, where countries have not reported data for one or more years, data has been interpolated to derive the emissions for the missing year or years. If the reported data is missing either at the beginning or at the end of the period, the emission value is assumed to equal the first or last reported value. The use of gap-filling may 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. A list of the gap-filled dataset, plus a spreadsheet containing a record of the gap-filled data is available from EEA's dataservice (http://eea.eionet.europa.eu/Members/irc/eionet-circle/etcacc/library).

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The use of acidifying potential factors leads to some uncertainty. The factors are assumed to be representative for Europe as a whole; on the local scale different factors might be estimated. An extensive discussion on the uncertainties in these factors is available in de Leeuw (2002).

Data sets uncertainty

EEA uses data officially submitted by EU Member States and other EEA member countries which follow common guidelines on the calculation and reporting of emissions (EMEP/EEA 2006) [1] for the air pollutants NOx, SO2 and NH3.

Sulphur dioxide emission estimates in Europe are thought to have an uncertainty of about 10% as the sulphur emitted comes from the fuel burnt and therefore can be accurately estimated.  However, because of the need for interpolation to account for missing data the complete dataset used here will have higher uncertainty. EMEP has compared modelled and measured concentrations throughout Europe [2]. From these studies differences in the annual averages have been estimated in the order of 30% consistent with an inventory uncertainty of 10% (there are also uncertainties in the measurements and especially the modelling).

Nitrogen oxide emission estimates in Europe are thought to have an uncertainty of about 30%, as the NOx emitted comes both from the fuel burnt and the combustion air and so cannot be estimated accurately from fuel nitrogen alone.  EMEP has compared modelled and measured concentrations throughout Europe (EMEP 1998).  From these studies differences for individual monitoring stations of up to a factor of two have been found.  This is consistent with an inventory of national annual emissions having an uncertainty of 30% (there are also uncertainties in the measurements and especially the modelling).

Ammonia emissions are also relatively uncertain. Total uncertainty ranges in emission estimates have been estimated to be as much as 50% [3]. Emissions from the agricultural sector are also associated with considerable uncertainty. This is due to the complex interaction of many environmental and management factors that can lead to significant regional variations in emissions occurring and which may make the application of default emission factors imprecise.

[1] (EMEP/EEA 2006). EMEP/CORINAIR Emission Inventory Guidebook - 2006 (http://reports.eea.europa.eu/EMEPCORINAIR4/en/page002.html)

[2] EMEP (1998). Transboundary Acidifying Air Pollution in Europe, Part 1: Estimated dispersion of acidifying and eutrophying compounds and comparison with observations. EMEP/MSC-W Report 1/98, July 1998.

[3] Eggleston, H.S. (1998). Inventory Uncertainty and Inventory Quality, background paper. Expert Group meeting on Managing Uncertainty in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories; IPCC/OECD/IEA, Paris.

 

Rationale uncertainty

This indicator on emissions of acidifying pollutants 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.

Work description

No major changes to this indicator were made in 2008. Data reported under the LRTAP, National emission ceilings Directive (NECD) and the GHG MM were used. Similarly, EEA-ETC/ACC does not expect major changes to the structure of the indicator will be required for 2009.

Resource needs

Countries should improve the completeness of the time series of their estimates (filling gaps). Further validation and checking is the responsibility of the country and needs especially to lead to improved detailed sectoral time series of emissions. There is also a need for further validation and checking of emission estimates within the framework of LRTAP Convention/EMEP and EEA-ETC/ACC activities.

Status

Completed

Deadline

2099/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1

Work description

Improvement in quality of national data delivered to LRTAP Convention /EMEP

Resource needs

The Gothenburg Protocol entered into force on 17 May 2005, after ratification by 16 countries early in 2005.

Status

In progress

Deadline

2099/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1

Work description

Improvement of national data delivered under National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD).

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified

Status

In progress

Deadline

2099/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Martin Adams

Ownership

No owners.

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 001
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Air pollution Air pollution

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Classification

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

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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