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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 EEA-33 countries, emissions of a number of compounds, categorised as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), decreased between 1990 and 2013. Emissions reductions were noted for hexachlorobenzene (HCB, by 96 %), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, by 76 %), dioxins and furans (by 84 %), and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, by 62 %).
While the majority of countries report that POPs emissions fell during this period, in some countries emissions increased.
In 2013, the most significant sources of emissions for these POPs included the ‘Commercial, institutional and households’ (26 % of HCB, 40 % of dioxin and furan and 18% of PCB emissions) and ‘Industrial processes and product use’ (23 % of HCB and 46% of PCB) sectors.
Between 1990 and 2013, final energy efficiency increased by 25 % in the EU-28 countries, at an annual average rate of 1.2 % per year. This increase was driven by improvements in the industrial sector (1.9 % per year) and households (1.6 % per year). The rate of improvement was lower in the transport sector (0.9 % per year) and even less in the service sector (0.4 % per year). Half of the efficiency gains achieved through technological innovations in the household sector were offset by the increasing number of electrical appliances in use and larger homes.
Across the EEA-33 countries, emissions of lead decreased by 92 % between 1990 and 2013, while emissions of mercury fell by 73 % and cadmium by 75 % over the same period.
Lead emissions from the road transport sector decreased by 98 % between 1990 and 2013 - a particular success story . Nevertheless, this sector still remains an important source of lead, contributing around 15 % of the remaining lead emissions in the EEA-33 region. Since 2004, little progress has been made in reducing emissions further; 99 % of the total reduction from 1990 levels of lead emissions was achieved by 2004.
There was no discernible trend in European ozone concentrations between 2003 and 2012, in terms of the annual mean of the daily maximum eight hour average measured at any type of station.
It is difficult to attribute observed ozone exceedences, or changes therein, to individual causes such as climate change.
Future climate change is expected to increase ozone concentrations, but this increase should not exceed 5 µg/m 3 by the middle of the century and would therefore likely be outweighed by reductions in ozone levels due to planned future emissions reductions.
End of the century projections for the effects of climate change involve an increase of up to 8 µg/m 3 in ozone concentrations .
The consumption of renewable energy continued to increase in 2013. The share of renewable energy in the gross final energy consumption in the EU-28 countries reached 15 % in 2013, representing 75 % of the EU's 20 % renewable energy target for 2020. Renewable energy contributed 16.5 % of gross final energy consumption for heating and cooling, 25.4 % of final electricity consumption and 5.4 % of transport fuels consumption in 2013.
In 2013, 25 Member States (i.e. all except Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) met or exceeded their indicative targets set under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), while 21 Member States (i.e. all except Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain) exceeded the indicative trajectories set in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs).
In 2013, Bulgaria, Estonia and Sweden managed to reach their binding renewable energy share targets for 2020 set under the RED.
Passenger transport demand in the EU-28 increased by nearly 1.1 % between 2012 and 2013, after an overall downward trend since its peak in 2009. Car passenger travel remains the dominant transport mode, with a share well above 70 %. Air transport grew by 10 % in 2011, but stabilised in 2012 and 2013. However, it retained its pre-crisis modal share (9 %). The share of rail passenger travel has grown slightly in recent years, accounting for 6.6 % of transport demand in 2013.
Land only passenger transport demand continued to grow in 2013 in the non-EU-28 countries, with Iceland experiencing 2.9 % growth, Turkey 3.2 %, Switzerland 1.6 % and Norway 1.3 %.
Between 1990 and 2013, the transport sector achieved some significant reductions in the emissions of important air pollutant: reductions in carbon monoxide (CO) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) (both around 83 %), and nitrogen oxides ( NO x ) (35%), sulphur oxide ( SO x ) (36%) and particulate matter (35 % in the case of PM 2.5 and by 27 % for PM 10 ).
Emissions of all pollutants decreased in 2013 compared with the previous year. NO x emissions decreased by 5 % , SO x by 12 % , and PM 10 and PM 2.5 by 9 % and 10 % respectively. The latest data shows that non-exhaust emissions of primary PM 10 and PM 2.5 make up 27 % and 16 % of total transport emissions of these pollutants , respectively.
All transport modes have experienced a decrease in emissions since 1990, except for international aviation and shipping for which emissions of each pollutant have increased. Also, ammonia (NH 3 ) emissions from road transport have increased following the introduction of three-way catalytic converters on road vehicles, from which NH 3 is released as a byproduct.
By the end of 2012, EU Member States had designated 5.9 %, or a total of 338 000 km 2 , of their seas as part of a complex network of marine protected areas.
As such, the EU had not reached Aichi target 11 of 10 % coverage of its seas. However, the target was reached in certain regional seas (Baltic Sea, the Greater North Sea including the Kattegat and the English Channel, and the Western Mediterranean Sea)
In 2013, the transport sector contributed almost one quarter (24.4 %) of total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions. The figure increases to 19.8%, if international aviation and maritime emissions are excluded.
In 2013, emissions from t ransport (including aviation) were 19.4 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2013. Emissions fell by 0.6 % compared to the previous year. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (+ 93 %), followed by international shipping (+ 28 %) and road transport (+ 17 %).
Emissions will need to fall by 67 % by 2050 in order to meet the long-term reduction target of the 2011 Transport White Paper.
Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants decreased significantly in most EEA-33 member countries between 1990 and 2013:
Nitrogen oxides (NO x ) emissions decreased by 49 % (54 % in the EU-28);
Sulphur oxides (SO x ) emissions decreased by 80 % (87 % in the EU-28);
Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions decreased by 57 % (59 % in the EU-28);
Ammonia (NH 3 ) emissions decreased by 15 % (27 % in the EU-28); and
Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) emissions decreased by 34 % (34 % in the EU-28).
The EU-28 met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of NO x , SO x , NH 3 and NMVOC below legally binding targets as specified by the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). However, a number of individual Member States reported emissions above their NECD emission ceilings: six for NO X (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg), six for NH 3 (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Spain) and three for NMVOCs (Denmark, Germany and Ireland). 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). Liechtenstein reported emissions above their NO x ceiling. Liechtenstein and Norway reported emissions above their NH 3 ceiling.
Emissions reduction commitments for 2020 have been set under the 2012 amended Gothenburg Protocol for NO x , SO 2 , NMVOC, NH 3 , and PM 2.5 . The EU-28 as a whole is on track to meet its reduction commitments.
The annual energy consumption of transport in the EEA-33 grew by 38 % between 1990 and 2007. However the impacts of the economic recession caused a subsequent decline in transport demand. Between 2007 and 2013, energy demand decreased by 9 %. Overall, between 1990 and 2013, there was a 25 % net growth in the energy consumption of transport in the EEA-33.
The shipping sector saw the greatest decline in energy consumption during the economic recession; it dropped by 10 % between 2008 and 2009 alone, with a total decrease of 20 % between 2007 and 2013. Total energy use for road, aviation and rail transport fell by 7% between 2007 and 2013.
Road transport accounts for the largest share of energy consumption, with 74 % of the total EEA-33 demand in 2013. Despite a decrease in energy consumption since the recession, road transport energy consumption in 2013 was still 23 % higher than in 1990. The fraction of diesel used in road transport has continued to increase, amounting to 71% of total fuel sales in 2013 .
Fossil fuels continued to dominate the electricity mix in 2013, being responsible for close to one half (45%) of all gross electricity generation in the EU-28, but their share has decreased by 20% since 1990. In contrast, for the first time, more electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2013 than from nuclear sources or from coal and lignite. The share of electricity generated from renewable sources is growing rapidly and reached more than one quarter of all gross electricity generation in the EU-28 in 2013 (27%), twice as much as in 1990. Nuclear energy sources contribute more than one quarter of all gross electricity generation in 2013 as well (27%).
Final electricity consumption ( the total consumption of electricity by all end-use sectors plus electricity imports and minus exports ) has increased by 28% in the EU-28 since 1990, at an average rate of around 1.1% per year (see ENER 016). In the EU-28, the strongest growth was observed in the services sector (2.8% per year), followed by households (1.6% per year).
With regard to the non-EU EEA countries, between 1990 and 2013 electricity generation increased by an average of 6.4% per year in Turkey, and 10% per year in Norway.
European ‘core natural/semi-natural’ lands became more fragmented in most countries and on average between 2000 and 2006. Their 1 km 2 surroundings developed towards a ‘mixed natural’ and/or ‘some natural’ mosaic pattern with agriculture and/or artificial lands. During this time period, the loss of the core natural landscape pattern, due to the spread of artificial and/or agricultural areas, occurred particularly in parts of southern (southwestern Spain, southern Portugal, Sicily), western (Great Britain), central (western Austria) and eastern (western Romania) Europe.
In 2006, 35% of European forest lands were fragmented i.e. distributed as a mixed landscape mosaic pattern where forest is intermingled with natural/semi-natural non forested lands, agriculture and artificial lands in their 1 km 2 surroundings. On average in Europe, between the years 2000 and 2006, forests in a ‘core natural’ landscape pattern became more fragmented towards a mixed landscape mosaic pattern, even if this trend was not observed for more than one third of European countries.
Although more than 40% of European landscape units reported a net forest area increase during between 2000 and 2006, only in one third of the units did this gain result in a significant increase in forest connectivity. In most countries, the trend of the units in a high connectivity range was either stable or showed a decrease during this period. Landscapes with poorly connected woodlands represented more than 60% of the EU in 2006.
The EU-28 is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, but it is decarbonising. Fossil fuels (gas, solid fuels and oil) accounted for 73.8% of the total gross inland energy consumption in 2013 (83% in 1990), while renewables accounted for just 11.8%. Between 1990 and 2013, the share of fossil fuels in the total gross inland energy consumption of the EU-28 decreased at an annual rate of 0.4% per year (0.6% per year between 2005 and 2013).
The efficiency of conventional thermal power plants has also improved from 42.2% in 1990 to 48% in 2013. In 2013, only 72.3% of the total gross inland energy consumption in the EU-28 reached the end users. Between 1990 and 2013, energy losses in transformation and distribution were about 27.7% of total gross inland energy consumption and did not show a significant trend.
The EU-28 is increasingly relying on imported fossil fuels from non-EU countries. The share of net imported fossil fuels in total gross inland energy consumption increased from 44% in 1990 to 53.2% in 2013. The EU’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels from non-EU countries remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2013. In 2013, 58% of total net imports was oil, 28% gas and 14% solid fuels.
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.
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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