Emissions of the main air pollutants in Europe

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CSI 040 , APE 010
Created 14 Jan 2015 Published 29 May 2015 Last modified 19 Dec 2016, 12:05 PM
Topics: ,
This indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants — NO x , NH 3 , SO x  and NMVOCs. The indicator further tracks trends since 2000 in anthropogenic emissions of PM with a diameter of up to 2.5 μm (i.e. PM 2.5 ) emitted directly into the air (primary PM). All named pollutants have direct or indirect negative effects on human health, vegetation or ecosystems. The indicator also provides information on emissions by sector, addressing the following source aggregations: 'Energy production and distribution' 'Energy use in industry' 'Industrial processes' 'Road transport' 'Non-road transport' 'Commercial, institutional and households' 'Solvent and product use' 'Agriculture' 'Waste' 'Other'. Geographically, the indicator covers the EU-28 and EEA-33 countries. The EEA-33 countries include the EU-28 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the 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) plus European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Turkey. Temporally, the indicator covers the 1990–2013 period (2013 is the most recent year for which there is officially reported emissions inventories; EEA, 2015b ).

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants — SOx, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), NH3, NMVOCs, PM and methane (CH4) — contribute to air quality problems in Europe. The consequences are adverse health effects caused particularly by PM, ground-level ozone (O3) and NO2. PM can be emitted directly into the air (so-called primary PM) or it can be formed in the atmosphere (so-called secondary PM) from airborne precursor substances. NO2, NMVOCs and CH4 are precursors of ozone, which is created in the atmosphere via photo-chemical reactions and contributes to the formation of secondary PM. Ground-level ozone not only has negative effects on human health, but also on crops and natural ecosystems. Excess deposition of sulphur and nitrogen compounds can lead to disturbances in the functioning and structure of ecosystems, i.e. causing acidification of soils and waters as well as, in the case of nitrogen, eutrophication in nutrient-poor ecosystems such as grasslands.

A more detailed summary of the effects of air pollution on human health and ecosystems is included in the EEA’s indicators 'Exceedance of air quality limit values in urban areas' (CSI 004) and 'Exposure of ecosystems to acidification, eutrophication and ozone' (CSI 005).

This indicator supports the assessment of progress towards meeting the national emission ceilings under the EU’s NECD (2001/81/EC) and the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 LRTAP Convention (see, for example, EEA, 2016a, and EEA, 2016b). The Gothenburg Protocol of 1999 was amended in 2012 (UNECE, 2012).

 

Scientific references

  • EEA, 2012 Evaluation of progress under the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive — Progress towards EU air quality objectives, EEA Technical Report No 14/2012, European Environment Agency.
  • EEA, 2016a NEC Directive status report 2015 — Reporting by the Member States under Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants, EEA 2015, European Environment Agency.
  • EEA, 2016b European Union emission inventory report 1990–2012 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), EEA Report No 16/2016, European Environment Agency.
  • EEA, 2016c 'Air pollutant emissions data viewer (LRTAP Convention)', European Environment Agency.
  • Hettelingh J-P, Posch M, Velders JM, Ruyssenaars, Adam M, de Leeuw, F, Lükewille A, Maas R, Sliggers J and Slootweg J, 2013 Assessing interim objectives for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone of the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive with 2001 and 2012 knowledge, Atmospheric Environment 75: 129–140.
  • EU, 2001 Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants.
  • EU, 2002 Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2002 laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme (OJ L 242, 10.9.2002, pp. 1–15).
  • EC, 2005 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament 'Thematic Strategy on air pollution' (COM(2005) 0446 final 21.9.2005).
  • EU, 2008a Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.
  • EU, 2013 Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’.
  • UNECE, 1979 The Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.
  • UNECE, 2012 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone to the Convention on Long range Transboundary Air Pollution, as amended on 4 May 2012.
  • EC, 2013 Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 'A Clean Air Programme for Europe' (COM(2013) 918 final).

Indicator definition

This indicator tracks trends since 1990 in anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants — NOx, NH3, SOx and NMVOCs. The indicator further tracks trends since 2000 in anthropogenic emissions of PM with a diameter of up to 2.5 μm (i.e. PM2.5) emitted directly into the air (primary PM). All named pollutants have direct or indirect negative effects on human health, vegetation or ecosystems.

The indicator also provides information on emissions by sector, addressing the following source aggregations:

  • 'Energy production and distribution'
  • 'Energy use in industry'
  • 'Industrial processes'
  • 'Road transport'
  • 'Non-road transport'
  • 'Commercial, institutional and households'
  • 'Solvent and product use'
  • 'Agriculture'
  • 'Waste'
  • 'Other'.

Geographically, the indicator covers the EU-28 and EEA-33 countries. The EEA-33 countries include the EU-28 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the 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) plus European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Turkey.

Temporally, the indicator covers the 1990–2013 period (2013 is the most recent year for which there is officially reported emissions inventories; EEA, 2015b).

Units

The total emissions per country are given in gigagrams (Gg; i.e. 1 000 tonnes). The aggregated sector contributions for the emissions of each main pollutant are given in percentages (%).

Policy context and targets

Context description

Current EU air pollution policy is underpinned by the 2005 Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (TSAP) (EC, 2005) for achieving improvements in 2020 relative to the situation in 2000, with concrete objectives related to the impacts on human health and the environment. The TSAP also established the European legislation and measures that are needed to ensure progress towards the long-term goal of the Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP; EC, 2002) (covering the 2002–2012 period) to further reduce air pollution and its impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity by 2020, i.e. to attain 'levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment'. This goal has been reinforced in the Seventh Environment Action Programme (7EAP), which will run until 2020 (EU, 2013). To move towards achieving the TSAP objectives, EU air pollution legislation has followed a twin-track approach of implementing both emissions mitigation controls and air‑quality standards. A new strategy, the Clean Air Programme for Europe, was proposed by the European Commission at the end of 2013 (EU, 2013). In November 2015, the status was that a Commission proposal for a revised NECD was being reviewed by the European Parliament and the Council.

Internationally, the 1979 UNECE LRTAP Convention (UNECE, 1979) was a first step towards addressing the impacts of air pollution on health and the environment. A centrepiece of the convention is the 1999 ‘Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone’, subsequently amended in 2012 (UNECE, 2012). The amended protocol sets national ceilings (limits) for the emission of the main air pollutants, namely SO2, NOx, NH3 and NMVOCs. It also includes ceilings for PM2.5 emissions, while the revision of the NECD proposed by the European Commission in 2013 includes ceilings for emissions of PM2.5 and CH4 (the latter is both an ozone precursor and a greenhouse gas). Under the protocol, the critical loads concept was established as a tool for informing political discussions related to damage to sensitive ecosystems (see CSI 005). Critical ozone levels (concentrations) for vegetation were also defined under the LRTAP Convention.

The Gothenburg Protocol was followed in 2001 by the EU's NECD (EU, 2001). This directive introduced legally binding national emissions limits for four main air pollutants: SO2, NOx, NH3 and NMVOCs. The directive requires EU Member States to have met emissions ceilings by 2010 and in the years thereafter. Around half of all Member States failed to meet at least one of their ceilings targets by 2010, while 11 Member States had failed to meet these targets by 2012 (EEA, 2014b). A revision of the NECD is part of the Clean Air Programme for Europe (EU, 2013b) mentioned above. The goal is to comply with the amended Gothenburg Protocol by 2020, followed by more ambitious reductions from 2030 onwards. The human health and environmental objectives defined in the NECD, the Gothenburg Protocol and the EU’s Air Quality Directive (EU, 2008a) are addressed by indicators CSI004 and CSI005.

Regulation addressing ambient air concentrations

The European directives currently regulating the ambient air concentrations of the main pollutants are designed to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects of air pollutants on human health and the environment by implementing limit or target values for ambient concentrations of air pollutants. They are:

  • Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, which regulates ambient air concentrations of SO2, NO2 and other nitrogen oxides, PM10 and PM2.5, lead, benzene (C6H6), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (EU, 2008a);
  • Directive 2004/107/EC relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air (EU, 2004).

In the case of non-compliance with the air quality limit and target values stipulated in European legislation, air quality management plans must be developed and implemented in the areas in which exceedances occur. These plans should aim to bring concentrations of air pollutants to levels below the limit and target values. To ensure overall coherence, and consistency between different policies, air quality plans should be consistent (if feasible) and integrated with plans and programmes in line with the directives regulating air pollutant emissions.

Legal instruments at European level that address emissions directly or indirectly

Source-specific EU legislation focuses on industrial emissions, road and off-road vehicle emissions, fuel quality standards, etc., by setting emissions standards, requiring the use of the best-available technology or setting requirements on fuel composition. In addition, several legal instruments are used to reduce environmental impacts from different activities or to promote environmentally friendly behaviour, and these also contribute indirectly to reduce air pollution, as summarised below.

End-of-pipe control in industrial installations:

  • Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants (the LCP Directive; EC, 2001); the overall aim of the LCP Directive is to reduce emissions of acidifying pollutants, PM and ozone precursors, and the directive addresses emissions from large combustion plants — i.e. those whose rated thermal input is equal to or greater than 50 MW;
  • Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (EU, 2010), which targets certain industrial, agricultural and waste treatment installations.

 

Emissions standards for cars:

  • The Euro Regulations set standards for road vehicle emissions. The Euro 5 and 6 standards are defined in Regulations (EC) No 692/2008 (EU, 2008b) and No 595/2009 (EU, 2009a). The Communication CARS 2020 (EC, 2012) sets out a timetable for implementation of the Euro 6 vehicle standards in real-world driving conditions, and for the revision of the non-road mobile machinery legislation.

 

Handling and storage:

  • Directive 94/63/EC on the control of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations (EU, 1994) and Directive 2009/126/EC on Stage II petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations (EU, 2009b);
  • Directive 1999/13/EC on the limitation of emissions of VOCs due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations (EU, 1999a).

 

Fuel quality:

  • Directive 2012/33/EU (EU, 2012) amending Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels, Directive 1999/32/EC on the reduction of sulphur content of certain liquid fuels (EU, 1999b) and Directive 2003/17/EC (amending Directive 98/70/EC) relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels (EU, 2003a).

 

International shipping:

  • The Marine Pollution Convention, MARPOL73/78 (IMO, 1973), is the main international convention on preventing ships from polluting as a result of operational or accidental causes. Annex VI sets limits on emissions of SOx, NOx, VOCs and PM in ship exhausts, and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances.
  • For international shipping, tighter shipping fuel standards and emissions standards at IMO/MARPOL level resulted in the recent revision of the Sulphur Content of Fuel Directive (adopted as 2012/33/EU; EU, 2012).

 

In addition to the policy instruments outlined above, there are several EU directives that also contribute indirectly to efforts to minimise air pollution. These directives are intended to reduce environmental impacts, including on climate change, and/or to promote environmentally friendly behaviour. Some examples are outlined below.

Agriculture:

  • The Nitrates Directive, i.e. Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (EU, 1991), particularly through the implementation of agricultural practices that limit fertiliser application and prevent nitrate losses, helps to reduce agricultural emissions of nitrogen compounds to air.


Energy taxation:

  • The Energy Taxation Directive, i.e. Directive 2003/96/EC restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity (EU, 2003b), establishes minimum taxes for motor fuels, heating fuels and electricity, depending on the energy content of the product and the amount of CO2 it emits. This directive aims to promote energy efficiency and less‑polluting energy products.

 

Ecodesign:

  • The Ecodesign Directive, i.e. Directive 2009/125/EC establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products, provides consistent EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of energy-related products through ecodesign (EU, 2009). This should benefit both businesses and consumers by enhancing product quality, achieving energy savings and thereby increasing environmental protection. Energy-related products (the use of which impacts energy consumption) include products that use, generate, transfer or measure energy (electricity, gas and fossil fuel). This includes boilers, computers, televisions, transformers, industrial fans and industrial furnaces. Some energy-related products do not use energy, but do have an impact on energy, and can therefore contribute to related savings, such as windows, insulation material, shower heads and taps.
  • The Ecodesign Directive is complemented and supported by the Energy Labelling Directive (EU, 2010b) and Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy (EU, 2006).

 

The Clean Air Policy Package

The new Clean Air Policy Package proposed by the European Commission in 2013 updates existing legislation that controls harmful emissions from industry, traffic, energy plants and agriculture, with a view to reducing their impact on human health and the environment (EC, 2013). The package has a number of components, including the following:

  • a new clean air programme for Europe with measures to ensure that existing targets are met in the short term and new air-quality objectives for the period up to 2030; the package also includes support measures to help cut air pollution, with a focus on improving air quality in cities, supporting research and innovation, and promoting international cooperation;
  • a revised NECD with stricter national emissions ceilings for six main pollutants (including primary PM2.5) and provisions for black carbon (BC), which also help to mitigate climate change;
  • a proposal for a new directive to reduce pollution from medium-sized combustion installations of between 1 thermal megawatt (MWth) and 50 MWth, such as energy plants for street blocks or large buildings, and small industry installations.

Targets

National Emission Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC)

The NECD (EU, 2001) sets pollutant-specific and legally binding emissions ceilings for NOx, NMVOCs, SOx and NH3 for each EU Member State. The directive requires Member States to have met the ceilings and interim environmental objectives by 2010 and in the years thereafter (EEA, 2016a). The directive sets specific environmental objectives that address the impacts of acidification and eutrophication on ecosystems, and the harmful effects of ozone on vegetation and human health (see CSI 005).

The NECD was reviewed as part of the Clean Air Policy Package. In December 2016, the Council adopted the new directive, and reporting under this directive will already start in February 2017. The new directive repeals and replaces the current EU regime on the annual capping of national emissions of air pollutants, as defined in Directive 2001/81/EC. By doing so, it ensures that the national emission ceilings (NECs) set in the current NECD (2001/81/EC) for 2010 onwards for SOx, NOx, NMVOCs and NH3 shall apply until 2020, and it establishes new national emission 'reduction commitments', which are applicable from 2020 and from 2030, for SOx, NOx, NMVOCs, NH3 and PM2.5. The reduction commitments are binding for the period from 2020 to 2029 and from 2030 onwards. In principle, the commitments are indicative for 2025 by a linear emission reduction trajectory. A non-linear reduction trajectory is permissible if it is economically and technically more efficient, and provided that, from 2025, it progressively converges with the linear reduction trajectory.

  

UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Gothenburg Protocol (1999; amended in 2012)

The amended Gothenburg Protocol sets national ceilings (limits) for the emission of the main air pollutants, namely SOx, NOx, NH3, NMVOCs and primary PM2.5 (UNECE, 2012). The EU as a whole has ratified the protocol, and reports EU emissions to the UNECE (EEA, 2016b).

The target under the amended protocol (UNECE, 2012) is to ensure that — in the long term and using a stepwise approach that takes into account advances in scientific knowledge — atmospheric depositions or concentrations do not exceed critical loads for the nutrient nitrogen (see CSI 005). Critical levels for the protection of crops (AOT40c) and for the protection of forests (AOT40f) have also been defined under the LRTAP Convention, and the critical level for crops is consistent with the EU long-term objective for vegetation (see CSI 005).

The 2010 targets under the NECD and Gothenburg Protocol are included in the EEA’s NEC data viewer and the LRTAP data viewer.

Related policy documents

  • 7th Environment Action Programme
    DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7 th EU Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. This programme is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020 based on the following vision: ‘In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society.’
  • A Clean Air Programme for Europe
    Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - "A Clean Air Programme for Europe", COM(2013) 918 final
  • Directive 2008/50/EC, air quality
    Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.
  • Gothenburg Protocol (LRTAP Convention)
    1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone to the Convention on Long range Transboundary Air Pollution, as amended on 4 May 2012.
  • Sixth Environment Action Programme (decision No 1600/2002/EC)
    DECISION No 1600/2002/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 July 2002 laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme
  • UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution
    UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Key policy question

What progress is being made towards reducing emissions of the main air pollutants across Europe?

Specific policy question

How do different sectors and processes contribute to emissions of the main air pollutants?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

This indicator is based on national total and sectoral emissions officially reported to the EEA and the UNECE 'Co-operative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmissions of air pollutants in Europe' (EMEP) LRTAP Convention (submitted in 2012). For the EU-28 Member States, the data used are consistent with the emissions data reported by the EU in its annual submission to the LRTAP Convention.

Recommended methodologies for emissions inventory estimation are compiled in the EMEP/EEA Air Pollutant Emission Inventory Guidebook (EMEP/EEA, 2016). Base data are available from the EEA Data Service and the EMEP website (Centre on Emission Inventories and Projections (CEIP)). Where necessary, gaps in reported data are filled by the European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change using simple interpolation techniques (see below). The final gap-filled data used in this indicator are available from the EEA’s LRTAP data viewer.

 

Base data, reported in the UNECE/EMEP nomenclature for reporting (NFR) sector format, are aggregated into the following EEA sector codes to obtain a consistent reporting format across all countries and pollutants:

  • Energy production and distribution: emissions from public heat and electricity generation, oil refining, production of solid fuels, extraction and distribution of solid fossil fuels and geothermal energy;
  • Energy use in industry: emissions from combustion processes used in the manufacturing industry including boilers, gas turbines and stationary engines;
  • Industrial processes and product use: emissions derived from non-combustion related processes such as the production of minerals, chemicals and metal production, non-combustion-related emissions mainly in the services and household sectors including from activities such as paint application, dry-cleaning and other uses of solvents;
  • Road transport: light and heavy duty vehicles, passenger cars and motorcycles;
  • Non-road transport: railways, domestic shipping, certain aircraft movements and non-road mobile machinery used in agriculture and forestry;
  • Commercial, institutional and households: emissions principally occurring from fuel combustion in the services and household sectors;
  • Agriculture: manure management, fertiliser application, field-burning of agricultural wastes;
  • Waste: incineration, wastewater management;
  • Other: emissions included in national totals for the entire territory that are not allocated to any other sector.

 

The following table shows the conversion of nomenclature for reporting (NFR14) sector codes used for reporting by countries into EEA sector codes:

EEA classification

Non-greenhouse gases (GHGs; NFR14)

 

National totals

National total

 

Energy production and distribution

1A1, 1A3e, 1B

 

Energy use in industry

1A2

 

Road transport

1A3b

 

Non-road transport (non-road mobile machinery)

1A3 (exl 1A3b)

 

Industrial processes and product use

2

 

 

 

Agriculture

3

 

Waste

5

 

Commercial, institutional and households

1A4ai, 1A4aii, 1A4bi, 1A4bii, 1A4ci, 1A4cii, 1A5a, 1A5b

Other

7

Methodology for gap filling

An improved gap-filling methodology was implemented in 2010 that enables a complete time-series trend for the main air pollutants (e.g. NOx, SOx, NMVOCs, NH3 and CO) to be compiled. In cases in which countries did not report emissions for any year, gap-filling could not be applied. For these pollutants, therefore, the aggregated data are not yet complete and are likely to underestimate true emissions. Further methodological details of the gap-filling procedure are provided in section 1.4.2 'Data gaps and gap-filling' of the European Union emission inventory report 1990–2009 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) (EEA, 2011).

Methodology references

  • EEA, 2011 European Union emission inventory report 1990 — 2013 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). EEA technical report No 9/2011. Copenhagen.
  • • EMEP/EEA, 2016 EMEP/EEA Air Pollutant Emission Inventory Guidebook.
  • EMEP, 2010 Transboundary, acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone in Europe in 2008 Estimated dispersion of acidifying and eutrophying compounds and comparison with observations.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The use of gap-filling methodology for countries that 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

NOx emissions estimates in Europe are thought to have an uncertainty of about ±20 % (EMEP (2010), as the NOx emitted is from both the fuel burnt and the combustion of air and so cannot be estimated accurately from fuel nitrogen alone. However, because of the need for interpolation to account for missing data, the complete data set used will have a higher degree of uncertainty. The overall trend is likely to be more accurate than 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.

SOx emissions estimates in Europe are thought to have an uncertainty of about ±10 %, as the sulphur comes from only the fuel burnt and therefore can be more accurately estimated than the emission of NOx. However, because of the need for interpolation to account for missing data, the complete data set used will have a higher degree of uncertainty. EMEP has compared modelled and measured concentrations throughout Europe (EMEP, 2010). From these studies, differences in the annual averages have been estimated to be ±30 %, which is consistent with an inventory uncertainty of ±10 % (there are also uncertainties in the measurements and especially the modelling). The trend is likely to be much more accurate than individual absolute values.

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

  • relevancy: 1
  • accuracy: 2
  • comparability over time: 2
  • comparability over space: 2.

NH3 emissions estimates in Europe are more uncertain than those for NOx, SOx and NMVOCs, largely because of the diverse nature of major agricultural sources. It is estimated that they have an uncertainty of around ±30 % (EMEP, 2009). The overall 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 is regularly updated by the EEA and is used in state of the environment assessments. The uncertainties related to methodology and data sets are therefore important.

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

Anke Luekewille

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 040
APE 010
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Air pollution Air pollution

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year

Classification

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)

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Data used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

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