Transport emissions of air pollutants
Key messagesA significant reduction of transport related emission of acidifying substances (34 %), ozone precursors (47 %) and particulate matter (31%) was achieved in the 32 EEA member countries between 1990 and 2006. However, transport still has a considerable share of total emissions of acidifying substances (21 %), ozone precursors (42 %) and particulate matter (34 %). In all three groups NOx is the main pollutant. It comprises 90, 66 and 88 % of total transport-related emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors (NMVOC equivalents) and of particulate matter (PM10 equivalents), respectively.
Are emissions of acidifying substances, particulates and ozone precursors from transport decreasing?
TERM03 Transport emissions of air pollutants
Note: The transport emissions data include all of 'road transport' and 'other transport/mobile sources', less the 'memo' items, which include international aviation (LTO (Landing and Take Off) and cruise) and international marine (international sea traffic - bunkers)
EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2008 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE/EMEP Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution.
Emissions of acidifying substances from transport decreased by 34.3 % between 1990 and 2006 in the 32 EEA member countries. The introduction of both catalytic converters and reduced sulphur in fuels has contributed substantially to this reduction, offsetting the pressure from increased road traffic in the same period. Decreases between 1990 and 2006 in the different country groupings were: 38 % in EU27, 40 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 24 % in the 12 new EU Member States and 32 % in the 4 EFTA countries; only in the candidate country Turkey emissions increased by 67 %. The proportion of emissions emitted from the different country groupings in 2006 was: 73 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 16 % in 12 new EU Member States, 9 % in the candidate country Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.
In the transport sector, NOx is the most important pollutant contributing to the formation of acidifying substances, comprising 90 % of total transport-related acidifying emissions in the 32 EEA member countries. Road transport contributed 14 % to the total emissions (i.e. from all sectors) of acidifying substances in 2006 for the 32 EEA member countries.
Emissions of ozone precursors from transport decreased by 47 % between 1990 and 2006 in the 32 EEA member countries. Reductions have occurred mainly because of increasing prevalence of catalytic converters for road vehicles and as a result of tightening of EU regulations on new vehicle emissions limits. Decreases were 54 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 29 % in the 12 new EU Member States and 46 % in the 4 EFTA countries. Only in the candidate country Turkey emissions increased by 43 %. The proportion of emissions from the different country groupings in 2006 was: 71 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 17 % in the 12 new EU Member States, 10 % in Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.
Emissions of NOx (66 %) and of NMVOC (20 %) were the most significant pollutants contributing to the formation of tropospheric ozone in 2006 in the 32 EEA member countries. Road transport is the dominant source of ozone precursors and accounted for 31 % of total ozone precursor emissions in 2006 in the 32 EEA member countries.
Emissions of particulate matter from the transport sector decreased by 31 % between 1990 and 2006 in the 32 EEA member countries. They decreased 35 % in the 27 EU Member States. The reduction from transport has been achieved largely as a result of the increasing prevalence of catalytic converters and other improvements to vehicle technology, reducing the emissions of secondary particulate precursors. Decreases were 38 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 19 % in the 12 new EU Member States and 31 % in the 4 EFTA countries; only in candidate country Turkey emissions were increasing by 63 %. The proportion of emissions from the different country groupings in 2006 was: 73 % in 15 old EU Member States, 16 % in the 12 new EU Member States, 10 % in Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.
Emission of NOx (88 %) was the most significant pollutant contributing to atmospheric PM10 in 2006. Road transport is the main source of emissions of fine particulates, contributing 23 % to the 32 EEA member countries' total emission of fine particulates.
Indicator specification and metadata
The indicator is based on the emission trend assessment of CO, CH4, NH3, NOx, NMVOCs, SOx and primary particulates. These substances are grouped into acidifying substances (NOx, SOx and NH3), particulates (primary: PM10, PM2.5, secondary: NOx, SOx and NH3) and ozone precursors (CH4, CO, NMVOC and NOx). The assessment is made for the total transport sector.
The conversion factors used are the following:
- Acidifying substances: NH3: 0.0588, NOx: 0.0217; SOx: 0.0313
- Ozone precursors: CH4: 0.0140, CO: 0.1100, NMVOC: 1, NOx: 1.2200
- Particulate matter: NH3: 0.6400, NOx: 0.8800, PM10: 1, SOx: 0.5400
Policy context and targets
No specific emission reduction target or objective exists for transport-related emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors or particulates. However, emission ceiling targets for total NOx, SOx, NMVOC and NH3 emissions are specified in both the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) and the Gothenburg protocol under the United Nations Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (UNECE 1999). Following the Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (2008/50/EC), a number of limit values (e.g. hourly limit values) have been set for the atmospheric concentrations of main pollutants, including SOx, NOx, air borne particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), lead, CO, benzene and ozone. Limits have been set at levels that should prevent or reduce harmful effects on health and ecosystems. Although aiming at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions the EU climate and energy package will also influence the emissions of air pollutants from the transport sector. In some countries national standards also apply.
Both the NECD and Gothenburg protocol set reductions targets for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds and ammonia for the 32 EEA member countries. There are substantial differences in emission ceilings, and hence emission reduction percentages for different countries, due to the different sensitivities of the affected ecosystems and technical feasibility for reductions.
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.
Council Directive 96/61/EC (IPPC)
Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). Official Journal L 257.
Directive 98/70/EC, quality of petrol and diesel fuels
Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC
Directive 2001/80/EC, large combustion plants
Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants
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
Data sources: For CH4 data from the country reports submitted in 2010 under the EU Monitoring Mechanism and to UNFCCC has been used. For air pollutants officially reported data to EMEP/LRTAP by 07 May 2010 has been used.
Methodology for gap fillingWhere a complete time series of emissions data has not been reported, data has been gap-filled according to EEA ETC/ACC methodologies. Details of the gap-filling procedure for the air pollutant data set are described in the European Union emission inventory report 1990–2008 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) (EEA Technical Report No 7/2010).
No methodology references available.
No uncertainty has been specified
Data sets uncertaintyFor greenhouse gases the results of the tier 1 level uncertainty estimate suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level were between 4.8 % and 10.2 % for total EU-15 GHG emissions in 2008. Transport related GHG emissions are estimated to have an uncertainty of 6 % in 2008 (see EEA, 2010). For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps. A quantification of uncertainty in the European Union LRTAP emission inventory requires the provision of detailed underpinning information on emission uncertainties from Member States. An evaluation of uncertainty at the EuropeanUnion level (including all EU-27 Member States) has not been performed, because insufficient information has been reported by Member States.
No uncertainty has been specified
National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive Inventory
provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
National emissions reported to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention)
provided by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Air Emission data set for Indicators
provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Transport (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- TERM 003
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoCinzia Pastorello
EEA Management Plan2010 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)
- 28 Sep 2006 - Transport emissions of air pollutants (CO, NH3, NOx, NMVOC, PM10, SOx) by mode
- 28 Nov 2005 - Transport emissions of air pollutants (CO, NH3, NOx, NMVOC, PM10, SOx) by mode
- 28 Sep 2004 - Transport emissions of air pollutants (CO, NH3, NOx, NMVOC, PM10, SOx) by mode
- 28 Sep 2003 - Transport emissions of air pollutants (CO, NH3, NOx, NMVOC, PM10, SOx) by mode
- 01 Jun 2001 - Transport emissions of air pollutants
- 01 Jun 2001 - Transport emissions of air pollutants TERM 2001
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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