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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Emission intensity of agriculture in Europe / Emission intensity of agriculture in Europe (WREI 001) - Assessment published Feb 2014

Emission intensity of agriculture in Europe (WREI 001) - Assessment published Feb 2014

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Topics: , ,

Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Agriculture Agriculture

Tags:
gross value added | subsidies | emission | water | emissions | nitrogen | agriculture | phosphorus
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • WREI 001
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2000, 2008
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is the emission of nutrients from agricultural land to water decoupling from economic growth?

Key messages

Nitrogen emission to water: Absolute decoupling of nitrogen emissions from GVA is observed in seven countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia ). This means that these countries succeeded in economy growth while reducing emissions to water. As the area of agriculture land remained constant during the analyzed period, the decrease in emission can be attributed to decrease in specific gross nutrient balance per hectare.

Relative decoupling was observed in the Czech Republic, and Poland. This means that the resource efficiency has increased, however with higher absolute emissions.  Decreases in emissions coupled with a decrease in GVA occurred in 11 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In six out of those 11 countries, the rate of emission decrease was greater than the rate of the GVA decrease.


Phosphorus emission to water: Absolute decoupling of phosphorus emissions from the GVA is observed in five countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Slovenia). Decrease in emission coupled with decrease in GVA occurred in ten countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In all these countries except Denmark, the rate of emission decrease was greater than the rate of the decrease of GVA.

The ranges of nutrient emission intensity of agriculture are quite wide and reflect varieties of agriculture practices across European countries.

Values of nitrogen emission intensity for 2008 range from 6,0 to 176 tons of total nitrogen per million EUR GVA per year. Significant decrease in nitrogen emission intensity between 2000 and 2008 was recorded in Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In 2008 Bulgaria, Portugal and Romania reported (in Eurostat) the lowest values of the specific nitrogen balance per hectare. In creased emission intensity was observed in Denmark, Ireland and United Kingdom, however, this was due to a falling GVA not to emissions, which actually were reduced. Calculation of emission intensity based on GVA diminished by subsidies, which reflects better the actual economic performance from  agriculture, result in much higher emission intensities for countries, e.g.,  Norway, Finland , Lithuania and Poland with relatively high contributions from subsidies to the economy.. The increment in emission intensity associated with excluding subsidies is significant namely in Norway (106 t/mio EUR/y) and Finland (38,8 t/mio EUR/y).

The 2008 values for total phosphorus emission intensity range from 0,47 to 13,03 tons per million EUR GVA per year. Significant decrease in the phosphorus emission intensity (decrease by more than 50%) over the last decade was recorded in nine countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech republic, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia). Moreover, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Portugal, reported (Eurostat) the lowest values of the specific phosphorus balance per hectare comparable to the EU-27 average, being 1 kg of total phosphorus per hectare per year. The impact of subsidies on phosphorus emission intensity (based on 2008 data), was most significant in Norway and Finland, where the increment in emission intensity associated with excluding subsidies accounted for 16,24 and 3,49 t/mio EUR/y respectively , whereas the increment in remaining countries did not exceed 1 t/mio EUR/y.

Subsidies: The analysis of subsidies on the output of the agricultural industry for the studied years showed that 13 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia and the United Kingdom) reduced the proportion of subsidies in relation to the GVA of their agricultural sector between 2000 and 2008. On the other hand, 5 countries (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) increased this proportion during the same period. Information was incomplete for Bulgaria and Germany, where subsidy levels for years 2000 and 2008 respectively were reported as zero (Eurostat). Noteworthy is the sharp increase in the proportion of subsidies as part of GVA  (being in the range between 12-26 % of GVA) in new Member States like Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia accompanied by the increase of GVA values. And, on the other hand, the significant reductions in old Member States like Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Given the multiple factors that affect both the change in sectoral GVA and in nutrient balance, it is complicated to draw direct relationships between these two variables. Some key descriptors which could aid in explaining the behavior of these are the structure of the sector (e.g. farm size, standard gross margins, crop type, stocking rate), the socioeconomic characteristics of the area (e.g. rural population, income and employment levels) and the policy measures in place (e.g. subsidies). However, it must be noted that the specific context of each country could result in varying combinations of the mentioned factors and their aggregate effects.

 

 

Changes in Nitrogen balance and GVA of agriculture

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Table
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Nitrogen emission intensity of agriculture

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Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Changes in Phosphorus balance and GVA of agriculture

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Phosphorus emission intensity of agriculture

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively
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GVA at basic prices and subsidies to the agriculture normalized by GVA 2000

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Key assessment

With the sole exception of Austria, all the countries which exhibit a positive change in GVA from agriculture have joined the EU in either 2004 or 2007 (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). This is, seven out of ten new MS which were included in the analyses experienced a positive development of their primary sector between 2000 and 2008. Here, the multiple impacts of the transition to a market-based economy and the accession to the EU in less than two decades should be noted. One of these impacts is the rise on the prices of agricultural goods in domestic and foreign markets, while intermediate costs remained stable and were supported by rearrangements in other sectors, thus increasing the added value of agricultural activities. Additionally, the increasing subsidy levels resulting from accession to the EU also plays a significant role. Furthermore, the gradual cutback on restrictions to EU markets and the preparations required for the integration into the regional bloc could have promoted the positive trends shown. The case of Romania, which showed the second highest increase in GVA and the second highest reduction in its nitrogen balance, exhibits an agricultural sector characterised by small-scale farming and low cattle stocking rates set up in a country with a highly rural population and thus a potentially sizeable workforce for the sector. Here, farms smaller than 5 ha. made up 93% of the country’s rural area between 2002 and 2004. Although declining, as of 2007, 20% of the country’s population remained employed in the rural areas (Hubbard and Hubbard, 2008) [1]. In addition to this, the economic transition recently undergone by the country resulted in a significant reduction of intensive cattle farming (MARD, 2007) [2], which is commonly identified as the second major source of nitrogen emissions from agriculture in the EU (Pau Vall and Vidal, 1999) [3].

Finally, distinguishing the proportion of GVA that is represented by subsidies on the output of the agricultural industry helps to visualize to what extent decoupling (absolute or relative) may be affected by rising or falling subsidy levels. Furthermore, including these figures into the calculation of emission intensities sheds light on how the individual developments in agricultural subsidy policy may impact the nutrient emission intensity figures for each MS. For instance, changes stemming from events like the reform of the agricultural policy in Europe – namely the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – and the way that compliance to its provisions affects old and new MS in different ways have influenced a dynamic behaviour of the subsidy-to-GVA ratio during the appointed period. Consequently, these changes should be taken into consideration when analysing nutrient emission intensity indicators.

 

 

References in key assessment text

  1. Pau Vall, M., Vidal, C. (1999) Nitrogen in Agriculture. In: Agriculture, Environment, Rural Development: Facts and Figures - A Challenge for Agriculture
  2. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (2007) National Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Government of Romania.
  3. Hubbard, C. and Hubbard, L. (2008) Bulgaria and Romania: Paths to EU Accession and the Agricultural Sector. Centre for Rural Economy Discussion Paper Series, No. 17, July 2008.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Bo Jacobsen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2012 1.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in July-September (Q3)
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