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The indicators maintained by the European Environment Agency are listed below in chronological order (the most recently updated indicators on top). The EEA indicators are designed to answer key policy questions and to support all phases of environmental policy making, from designing policy frameworks to setting targets, and from policy monitoring and evaluation to communicating to policy-makers and the public.
More information on indicators, including definitions of the thematic sets of indicators managed by the EEA, is available on the About indicators page.
In the EU-28 countries, the ecosystem area where acidification critical loads were exceeded decreased from 43% in 1980 to 7% in 2010 (it also decreased by 7% across all EEA member countries). There remain some areas where the EU's interim objective for reducing acidification, as defined in the National Emission Ceilings Directive, has not been met.
The EU28 ecosystem area, where the critical loads for eutrophication were exceeded, peaked at 84% in 1990 and decreased to 63% in 2010 (55% in EEA member countries). The area in exceedance is projected to further decrease to 54% in 2020 for the EU28 (48% in EEA member countries), assuming current legislation is implemented. The magnitude of the exceedances is projected to reduce considerably in most areas, except for a few 'hot spot' areas in western France and the border areas between the Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands as well as in northern Italy.
Only 4% of the EU-28 ecosystem area (3% in EEA member countries) is still projected to be in exceedance of acidification critical loads in 2020 if current legislation is fully implemented. The eutrophication reduction target set in the updated EU air pollution strategy proposed by the European Commission in late 2013, will be met by 2030 if it is assumed that all maximum technically feasible reduction measures are implemented, but it will not be met by current legislation.
Most of Europe's vegetation and agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels that exceed the long term objective specified in the EU Air Quality Directive. A significant fraction is also exposed to levels above the target value threshold defined in the directive. In 2012, the agricultural area exposed to concentrations above the target value threshold increased to 27% of the total area, representing an increase compared to the previous three years.
With regard to forest ozone exposure, between 2004 and 2012, 60% or more of the forest area was exposed to concentrations above the critical level set by the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.
Air quality in Europe is slowly improving. However, between 2000 and 2013, a significant proportion of the urban population in the EU28 was exposed to concentrations of certain air pollutants above the EU limit or target values. The numbers of people exposed were even higher in relation to the more stringent World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guideline values set for the protection of human health .
For fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ), 4-14% of t he urban population were exposed to concentrations in excess of the EU target value, while 87-98% were exposed to concentrations above the WHO guideline value (for 2006-2013 only) .
For particulate matter (PM 10 ), the respective exposure estimates were 17-41% for the EU limit value and 61-92% for the WHO guideline value .
For ozone (O 3 ), 14-58% for the EU target value and 93-99% for the WHO guideline value .
For nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), 8-27% in both cases (limit value and WHO guideline).
For benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), 20-28% for EU target value and 85-91% for the estimated reference level (for 2008-2013 only).
Between 1990 and 2013, energy intensity (the ratio of gross inland energy consumption and GDP) decreased by 1.7% per year in the EU28 countries and by 1.6% per year in the EEA countries. In 2013, energy intensity was 32% below the 1990 level in the EU28 and 30% below in the EEA countries.
During this period, the rate of decrease of energy intensity in the EU28 has been rather constant. The period 1990-2005 is characterised by relatively high economic growth and the more modest growth of gross inland energy consumption. The period 2005-2013 is characterised by much smaller economic growth and decreasing gross inland energy consumption. The resulting rate of decrease of energy intensity is rather similar in these periods.
All EEA member countries  show a decrease of energy intensity between 2005 and 2013, except for Norway (annually +1.6%), Estonia (+0.3%) and Turkey (annually +0.3%). The largest decreases were observed in central European countries (e.g. Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) because of changes in their economic structure.
 The 33 EEA member countries include the 28 European Union Member States together with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
Between 1990 and 2013, final energy consumption in the EU28 increased by 2.2%. Between 2005 and 2013, final energy consumption decreased by 7.0% in the EU28. It was a result of decreased final energy consumption in industry, transport and households sectors, where final energy consumption dropped by 15.4%, 5.7% and 3.2%, respectively. In contrast, the services sector was the only sector where energy consumption increased, by a figure of 5.7% over the same period. The decrease in final energy consumption since 2005 was influenced by economic performance, structural changes in various end-use sectors, in particular industry, improvements in end-use efficiency and lower heat consumption due to favourable climatic conditions. In 2013, the EU28 was on track to meet its 2020 target for final energy consumption. Early estimates suggest that final energy consumption decreased by a further 3.4% in 2014 compared to 2013.
Final energy consumption in EEA countries increased by 6.2% between 1990 and 2013 and t his difference is caused by the increased energy consumption in Turkey (115%) and Norway (17%). B etween 2005 and 2013, final energy consumption in EEA countries decreased by 5.0% and the largest contributor of this decrease was industry sector (13.1%).
On average, each person in the EEA countries used 2.0 tonnes of oil equivalent to meet their energy needs in 2013.
In 2013, primary energy consumption in the EU28 countries was almost the same as in 1990 and amounted to 1567 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Between 2005 and 2013, primary energy consumption in the EU28 countries decreased by 8.3% due, in particular, to the economic recession, climatic conditions and energy efficiency improvements. Based on EEA preliminary estimates, in 2014 EU28 primary energy consumption continued to decrease by 3.3% compared to 2013.
Primary energy consumption in the non-EU EEA countries doubled from 69 Mtoe in 1990 to 143 Mtoe in 2013. The main reason for the difference in the trend for these countries compared to the EU-28 was the large increase in primary energy consumption in Turkey and, to a lesser extent, in Norway.
Fossil fuels (including non-renewable waste) continued to dominate primary energy consumption in the EU28, but their share declined from 82.1% in 1990 to 72.9% in 2013. The share of renewable energy sources more than doubled over the same period, from 4.5% in 1990 to 12.6% in 2013, increasing at an average annual rate of 4.5% per year. The share of nuclear energy in gross inland energy consumption increased slightly from 13.1% in 1990 to 14.4% in 2013.
The efficiency of electricity and heat production in public conventional thermal power plants in the EU28 countries increased from 42.2% in 1990 to 48.0% in 2013. In the non-EU EEA countries, efficiency increased from 34.7% in 1990 to 44.4% in 2013. Between 2005 and 2013, the efficiency of public conventional thermal power plants more or less stabilised in both the EU28 and the non-EU EEA countries.
The efficiency of electricity and heat production from autoproducer conventional thermal power plants in the EU and non-EU EEA countries decreased by about 5 percentage points, from about 60% in 2005 to about 55% in 2013.
Over the 1990-2013 period, EU28 final energy intensity decreased by 30.5% at an annual average rate of 1.6% per year. Since 2005, final energy intensity has decreased by 12% at an annual rate of 1.6% per year, resulting in an absolute decoupling between economic growth and final energy consumption. In the transport sector, final energy intensity decreased by 1.4% per year since 2005. Final energy intensity in industry, agriculture, and services and other sectors decreased by 2.3% per year, 1.6% per year and 1.0% per year, respectively, since 2005. In the household sector, final energy intensity decreased by 0.7% per year over the same period.
Between 1990 and 2013, final energy intensity in non-EU EEA countries also decreased; by 33.2% in Norway and 1.1% in Turkey. The decrease in Turkey is much smaller than in the EU28 due to an increase of industry energy intensity.
A significant reduction in the EEA-33 consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) has been achieved since 1986. This reduction has largely been driven by the 1987 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Montreal Protocol.
At the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol, EEA-33 consumption was approximately 420 000 ozone depleting potential tonnes (ODP tonnes). Values around zero were reached in 2002 and EEA-33 consumption continues to be consistently around zero since then. The European Union (EU) has taken additional measures to reduce the consumption of ozone depleting substances by means of EU law since the early 1990s. In many aspects, the current EU regulation on substances that deplete the ozone layer (1005/2009/EC) goes further than the Montreal Protocol and also brought forward the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the EU.
Three independent long records of global average near-surface (land and ocean) annual temperature show that the decade between 2005 and 2014 was 0.80 °C to 0.84 °C warmer than the pre-industrial average.
Over the decade 2005-2014 the rate of change in global average surface temperature has been between 0.08 and 0.12 °C /decade. This is slower than in previous decades and close to the half of the indicative limits of 0.2°C/decade.
The past decade has seen predominantly La Niña phases in the Pacific Ocean whose influence generally slows the rise in global average temperature.
The Arctic region has warmed significantly more rapidly than the global mean, and this pattern is projected by climate models to continue into the future.
The best estimate by climate models for further rises in global average temperature over this century is from 1.0 to 3.7°C above the period 1971-2000 for the lowest and highest representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios. The uncertainty ranges for the lowest and highest RCP are 0.3–1.7°C and 2.6–4.8°C, respectively.
The EU and UNFCCC target of limiting global average temperature increase to less than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels is projected to be exceeded between 2042 and 2050 by the three highest of the four IPCC scenarios (RCPs).
The average temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2005–2014) was around 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest decade on record. 2014 was the hottest year on record in Europe with mean annual land temperatures 2.11 to 2.16 °C higher than the pre-industrial average.
Across European land area the number of hot days (those exceeding the 90 th percentile of a baseline threshold) have increased by 2% on average per decade since 1960 (from about 7% in the 1960s to 13% over the last decade).
Annual average land temperature over Europe is projected to continue increasing by more than global average temperature over the rest of this century, by around 2.4 °C and 4.1 °C under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively.
During the period 1980-2012 parts of Europe experienced extreme heatwaves (summers of 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2010). Such heat waves are projected to become the norm in the second half of the 21st century under high forcing scenario (RCP8.5).
Emissions of a number of compounds categorised as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - e.g. hexachlorobenzene (HCB, by 92%), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH, by 85%), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, by 75%), dioxins & furans (by 83%), and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, by 61%) - decreased between 1990 and 2012 in the EEA-33 countries. While the majority of countries report that POPs emissions fell during this period, a number report that increased emissions occurred.
In 2012, the most significant sources of emissions for these POPs included ‘Commercial, institutional and households’ (10% of HCB, 32% of dioxins and furans, 16% of PCBs) and ‘Industrial processes’ (70% of HCB, 32% of HCH, 27% of PCBs) sectors.
Since 1990, EU-28 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF 6 emissions have reduced by a significant degree, a major rise can be observed for HFCs emissions, which have almost tripled since 1990.
In 2013, the net supply of F-gases to the EU declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and CO 2 -equivalents. The 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the ‘economic crisis’ year, 2009. EU production appears to have stabilised slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline from 2010 to 2012. However, in 2013 imports rose back to 2011 levels. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. Expressed in CO 2 -equivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped slightly.
Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.
Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants decreased significantly in most EEA-33 member countries between 1990 and 2012:
Nitrogen oxides (NO X ) emissions decreased by 46% (51% in the EU-28);
Sulphur oxides (SO X ) emissions decreased by 75% (84% in the EU-28);
Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions decreased by 56% (60% in the EU-28);
Ammonia (NH 3 ) emissions decreased by 24% (28% in the EU-28); and
Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) emissions decreased by 35% (35% in the EU-28).
The EU-28 as a whole did not meet its 2010 target to reduce emissions of NO X . A further reduction of 2.2% from the 2010 emissions level is required to meet the interim environmental objectives set in the European Union’s 2001 National Emission Ceiling Directive (NECD).
The EU-28 met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of SO X , NH 3 and NMVOC below legally binding targets as specified by the NECD. A number of EU Member States reported emissions above their NECD emission ceilings: nine for NO X , three for NH 3 , and one for NMVOCs. There are no emission ceilings for primary PM 2.5 .
Three additional EEA member countries have emission ceilings for 2010 set in the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). All three countries met the SOx ceiling. Switzerland also met the ceilings for the other three pollutants. Liechtenstein exceeded the NMVOC ceiling. Norway breached two ceilings, for NH 3 and for NOx.
Soil moisture content is already being affected by rising temperatures and changes in precipitation amounts, both of which are evidence of changes in climate.
Since 1951, modelled soil moisture content significantly increased in parts of northern Europe and decreased in the Mediterranean region.
Projections for 2021–2050 show a general change in summer soil moisture content over most of Europe, including significant decreases in the Mediterranean region and increases in the northeastern part of Europe.
Maintaining water-retention capacity and porosity are important to reduce the impacts of intense rainfall and droughts, which are projected to become more frequent and severe.
The modelled results are based on natural factors and disregard artificial drainage and irrigation practices.
The world’s population increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around 7 billion in 2010, and is expected to continue to rise until 2050/2100 under most UN projection variants. Assuming the ‘medium fertility’ projection variant, global population might increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, rising to 10.9 billion by 2100. However, if fertility and mortality rates stay at current levels (i.e. assuming the ‘no change’ projection variant), growth rates would be substantially higher, and the global population could rise to 10.2 billion by 2050 and 19.9 billion by 2100.
Expected global population growth is projected to be largely driven by increases in Asia and particularly in Africa. While the Asian population is expected to peak by 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow strongly and continuously, from about 1 billion today to more than 4 billion by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
The total population of the 28 EU Member States is projected to slightly increase from the current figure of 505 million to 520 million by 2030, and then to decrease in the subsequent decades to some 475 million by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The age structure is projected to change substantially, with an increase of the share of people aged 65 years or older from the current figure of 17% to over 30% by 2050, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network. Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) increased in coverage from 450 000 to 810 000 square kilometres and Special Protected Areas (SPAs) increased from approximately 180 000 to 670 000 square kilometres. Ten countries have designated more than 20% of their territory.
The total ecological footprint for the EU-28 countries increased rapidly during the 1960s and 70s, and has remained relatively constant since the 1980s. The region’s total biocapacity, however, has changed very little since 1961. The picture is similar for the EEA-33 countries.
The pan-European ecological footprint has been increasing almost constantly since 1961, while biocapacity (1) has decreased. This results in an ever larger deficit, with negative consequences for the environment within and outside Europe. (1) The capacity of ecosystems to produce useful biological materials and to absorb waste materials generated by humans, using current management schemes and extraction technologies.
Across the EEA-33 countries, emissions of lead decreased by 89%, mercury by 66% and cadmium by 64% between 1990 and 2012.
Emissions from the road transport sector have decreased by nearly 98%. Nevertheless, the road transport sector still remains an important source of lead, contributing around 12% of total lead emissions in the EEA-33 region. However, since 2004, little progress has been made in reducing emissions further; 97.9% of the total reduction from 1990 emissions of lead had been achieved by 2004.
The manufacturing industry in 11 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) has achieved absolute decoupling of nutrient emissions from economic growth (GVA). A decrease in emissions coupled with a decrease in gross value added (GVA) occurred in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium and Finland. However, in all cases (except Finland), the rate of emissions decrease was greater than that of GVA. An increase in nutrient emissions, accompanying the growth in GVA, was observed in Slovakia and Poland.
These developments arise from different absolute levels of emissions intensities and depend on there being no major changes in data coverage - such as including more facilities in the most recent reporting year despite them already existing in the earliest reporting year - within the countries during the reporting period. It should be noted that, as some industrial emissions may vary considerably from year to year, the comparison of just two selected years might be subject to variations, and not be representative of a consistent trend.
The achievement of absolute decoupling of manufacturing industries' heavy metals emissions from economic growth (GVA) was observed again in 12 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden). A decrease in emissions, coupled with a decrease in GVA occurred in the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium. In all cases, the decrease in the rate of emissions was greater than that of GVA (relative decoupling). An increase in emissions, despite a drop in GVA, was observed in Finland and France. Finally, a growth in emissions accompanying economic growth occurred in the manufacturing industry in Hungary.
Given the multiple factors that affect both sectoral GVA and the pollution pressure originating from manufacturing, it is complicated to draw direct relationships between these two variables. Some key descriptors, which could aid in explaining this behaviour, are the structure of the sector (e.g. facility size distribution, production technology, relative proportion reported as E-PRTR releases), the socioeconomic characteristics (e.g. salary levels) of the area and the policy and/or economic measures in place (e.g. treatment requirements, pollution charges, taxes). However, it must be noted that the specific context of each country could result in varying combinations of the factors mentioned and their aggregate effects.
The main pathways for marine non-indigenous species (NIS) introduction in Europe´s seas are shipping (51%) and the Suez Canal (37%). These are followed by aquaculture related activities (17%) and, to a much lesser extent, aquarium trade (3%) and inland canals (2%). This is a pattern observed in all regional seas, except for the Eastern Mediterranean where introductions via the Suez Canal exceed those by shipping.
Trends in pathways show an increasing rate of introductions by shipping and corridors (in particular the Suez canal) since the 1990s, while aquaculture mediated introductions have been decreasing since the 2000s. This can be attributed to the adoption of effective EU regulation. Aquarium trade emerges as a lower but increasing pathway since the 2000s.
Available data shows that the seas around Europe currently harbor 1 416 non-indigenous species (NIS), almost 81% (1 143) of which have been introduced after 1950. These consist mostly of invertebrates (approx. 63%).
The rate of new introductions of NIS is continually increasing with 323 new species recorded since 2000 at pan-European level.
An increase in NIS introductions is observed for all regional seas. The most affected seas are in the Mediterranean, in particular in the Aegean-Levantine Sea. In this region over 160 new species have been recorded from 2000 to 2010.
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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