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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010

The European environment – state and outlook 2010

SOER 2010 provides a set of assessments of the current state of Europe's environment, its likely future state, what is being done and what could be done to improve it, how global megatrends might affect future trends… and more.
Key facts and messages
Continuing depletion of Europe's stocks of natural capital and flows of ecosystem services will ultimately undermine Europe's economy and erode social cohesion. Most of the negative changes are driven by growing use of natural resources to... more
Climate change — The EU has reduced its greenhouse gas emission and is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments. However, global and European cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are far from sufficient to keep average world temperature increases... more
Nature and biodiversity — Europe has established an extensive network of protected areas and programmes to reverse the loss of endangered species. However, widespread alteration of landscapes, degradation of ecosystems and loss of natural capital... more
Natural resources and waste — Environmental regulation and eco-innovation have increased resource efficiency through a relative decoupling of resource use, emissions and waste generation from economic growth in some areas. However, absolute... more
Environment, health and quality of life — Water and air pollution have declined but not enough to achieve good ecological quality in all water bodies or to ensure good air quality in all urban areas. Widespread exposure to multiple pollutants... more
Links between the state of Europe's environment and various global megatrends imply increasing systemic risks. Many key drivers of change are highly interdependent and likely to unfold over decades rather than years. These interdependencies... more
The notion of dedicated management of natural capital and ecosystem services is a compelling integrating concept for dealing with environmental pressures from multiple sectors. Spatial planning, resource accounting and coherence among sectoral... more
Increased resource efficiency and security can be achieved, for example, using extended life cycle approaches to reflect the full environmental impacts of products and activities. This can reduce Europe's dependence on resources globally... more
Implementing environmental policies and strengthening environmental governance will continue to provide benefits. Better implementation of sectoral and environmental policies will help ensure that goals are achieved and provide regulatory stability... more
Transformation towards a greener European economy will ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of Europe and its neighbourhood. In this context, shifts in attitudes will be important. Together, regulators, businesses and citizens could... more
Global mean temperature in 2009 was 0.7-0.8 °C higher than in pre-industrial times and the decade 2000-2009 was the warmest on record. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in 2007 that most of the global warming since... more
Land and ocean sinks have taken up more than half of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1800, but these natural sinks are vulnerable to climate and land-use change and are highly likely to take up less CO2 in future. more
The extent of Arctic summer sea ice has declined by about 10 % per decade since 1979. The extent of the minimum ice cover in September 2007 was half the size of the normal minimum extent in the 1950s; the third lowest minimum extent occurred... more
Observed global mean sea level rise has accelerated over the past 15 years. From 2002 to 2009 the contributions of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise increased. In 2007 the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to... more
The vast majority of glaciers in Europe are in retreat. Glaciers in the Alps lost about two-thirds of their volume between 1850 and 2009. The glacierised area in the Alps is projected to decrease to about one-third of the present area for a... more
Recent research suggests that several key components of the climate system could undergo irreversible change at significantly lower levels of global temperature increase than previously assessed. The most important of these “tipping elements”... more
The EU emitted close to 5 billion tonnes (Gt) of CO2-equivalents in 2008. It contributes today around 12 % of annual global anthropogenic direct greenhouse gas emissions. more
The greenhouse gas emission reductions observed in Europe over the last two decades are a combined result of the economic restructuring that occurred mainly in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, the policies and measures implemented to reduce greenhouse... more
EEA member countries collectively reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 % and per capita emissions from 10.9 to 9.3 tonnes CO2-equivalent between 1990 and 2008. more
The reduction of ozone-depleting substances under the UNEP Montreal Protocol has also resulted in greenhouse gas emissions cuts significantly larger than the emission reductions that will take place under the Kyoto Protocol until 2012. more
Scientific studies show that global greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 44 to 46 Gt CO2-equivalents per year by 2020 in order to give a 50 % chance of limiting global mean temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The... more
The EU is making good progress towards achieving its emission reduction targets. In the EU-27, which has set an independent target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 % by 2020 as compared to 1990 levels, emissions were 11.3 %... more
Vulnerabilities differ across regions, sectors and communities, with pronounced consequences expected in the Mediterranean basin, north-western and central-eastern Europe and the Arctic. Many coastal zones, mountains and areas prone to river... more
The costs of adaptation in Europe could amount to billions of Euro per year in the medium and long term. Although the economics of adaptation options so far relies on limited information and a few modelling tools, assessments suggest that timely... more
Observed and projected climate change have far-reaching impacts in Europe including an increase in temperature, sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns and water availability, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such... more
So far 11 European countries, and a few regions and cities, have adopted adaptation strategies. Mainstreaming adaptation in EU policies, strengthening the knowledge base and facilitating information sharing are key levers for building resilience.... more
A temperature rise of 2 °C or more above pre-industrial levels is likely to cause major societal, economic and environmental disruption, making it challenging for human and natural systems to adapt at affordable costs. Climate change will affect... more
Adaptation strategies can reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience. An increasing number of options have been identified, including no-regret measures that are relevant under all plausible future scenarios. In addition to technological... more
Many habitats such as semi-natural grasslands, marshlands and bogs, and coastal wetlands are still declining and a significant number of species on land and in the European seas is threatened with extinction. Most biogeographic assessments of... more
Biological invasions and their negative effects on biodiversity are enhanced by growing international trade and climate change. More than 10 000 non-native species are now present in Europe, 10-15 % of which are considered to have negative economic... more
Land-use change and intensification are causing further fragmentation and homogenisation of forests and agro-ecosystems. Although some decline in freshwater nutrients has been observed, eutrophication of terrestrial ecosystems continues to be... more
The EU policy objective of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has thus not been achieved. The implementation of EU environmental legislation and policy has had positive effects, but progress is slow and threats have grown both within Europe and... more
Extending Natura2000 on land is a major success but progress in designating marine Natura2000 sites has been slow so far. Overall it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the management regimes that have been put in place. Success in achieving... more
Biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which we all depend are inextricably linked. Both are under pressure from humanity's ever-increasing use of natural resources. Europe's high resource consumption results in an ecological footprint... more
Land use trends since 2000 remain the same as in the previous decade but most have slowed down somewhat. Urban areas, infrastructure and forest cover are still increasing at the expense of agricultural land. Farmland is often managed more intensively... more
Land is a finite resource and the way it is used is one of the principal drivers of environmental change, with significant impacts on quality of life and ecosystems as well as on the management of infrastructure. In turn, environmental change... more
Land uptake by urban development and transport infrastructure has been slightly faster than in the previous decade. This continues the trend of landscape fragmentation and increases other environmental impacts. Urbanisation rates vary substantially,... more
Land use decisions involve trade-offs between the current high attention to food and energy security, and more policy emphasis on multi-functionality taking into account ecosystem and natural resource management objectives. The diversity of... more
The understanding of the relationship between land use and environmental impacts must be improved. There is a need to assess inherent trade-offs and feed-backs between land use and ecosystem services, including indirect land use effects (Europe’s... more
Current land use trends are likely to continue though possibly at a lower rate, with built-up area increasing at the expense of agricultural land uses and natural areas. Within agriculture, arable land for food and energy crops is likely to... more
Soil is a largely non-renewable natural resource that underpins a range of vital ecosystem services. Soil organisms play a key role in soil processes, such as bio-geochemical cycles, organic matter decomposition, and nitrogen transformation.... more
Certain regions of Europe are affected by soil salinisation, acidification, landslides or desertification, with considerable economic and environmental consequences. Soil degradation is accelerating in many parts of Europe, exacerbated by human... more
Soil erosion by wind and water, largely the result of unsuitable land management, deforestation, overgrazing, construction activities and forest fires, affects around 17% of Europe’s land area. Erosion rates and extents are expected to continue... more
Soil is being lost due to intensive soil sealing – about 4% of Europe’s total land area is sealed and the demand for urbanisation and transport infrastructure is rising. In addition, it is estimated that around 18% of agricultural soils... more
Industrialisation and poor management have left thousands of contaminated sites throughout Europe, resulting in human health impacts and environmental problems including groundwater contamination. While some countries have made significant progress,... more
Few countries have specific legislation to protect soil and there is no EU law or regulatory instrument that specifically addresses threats to it or requires the systematic collection of comparable data. The European Commission has published... more
Unsustainable fishing occurs in all European Seas and is threatening the viability of European fish stocks. 21 to 60% of the commercial fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean are considered to be outside... more
Sea surface temperatures and sea level are rising and likely to rise further. The resulting shifts in the geographical and seasonal distribution of marine and coastal species will require adaptations in the management of fisheries and natural... more
Sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems through an ecosystem-based approach are being pursued through the Integrated Maritime Policy and its environmental pillar, the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive, under... more
Nutrient enrichment is a major problem in the coastal and marine environment, where it accelerates the growth of phytoplankton and can lead to oxygen depletion. Concentrations of some heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants in marine... more
Designation of coastal and marine sites as part of Natura 2000, although improving, has been slow and difficult. The conservation status of some coastal and most marine habitats still needs to be assessed, while 22 % of marine mammals are threatened... more
Degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems is observed in the Black, Mediterranean, Baltic, North East Atlantic Seas and in the Arctic. This trend is caused by fishing, agriculture, the industrial use of chemicals, tourist development, shipping,... more
Growth of the maritime, agriculture and tourism sectors is expected to continue. An important future objective for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be to ensure that this growth is sustainable to achieve and then maintain ‘Good... more
Consumption of goods and services in the EEA member countries is a major driver of global resource use – and associated environmental impacts – as the levels of European demand exceed the continent’s ability to meet them from within its... more
Europeans spend most on food and drink, housing and mobility, three areas that also cause the greatest environmental pressures per Euro spent. Tourism is a fourth area with high and growing environmental pressures from European consumption,... more
The growth in global trade is resulting in an increasing share of the environmental pressures and impacts caused by consumption in EU countries being felt beyond their borders. While some of this shift is between EU countries, a large part is... more
There is major potential for reducing environmental pressures caused by European consumption. Examples include shifting from car use to collective transport and bicycles, choosing high-quality and eco-labelled products and energy-efficient housing... more
Instigating such changes and making more resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable consumption patterns mainstream is a significant challenge. It requires public authorities to put the framework conditions in place to enable business... more
Achieving significant reductions in the environmental pressures related to consumption will require sophisticated policy packages, including regulatory and voluntary instruments, providing sustainable infrastructure, technological support; consumer... more
Europe, like much of the industrialized world, is using an increasing amount of materials. The EU-27 average annual use of material resources is some 16 tonnes per person. On average, about six tonnes of waste per person are generated each year... more
Resource use and waste generation in the EU-27 have been decoupled from economic growth. However, in most countries resource use and waste generation still increase in absolute figures. Although resource efficiency continues to improve, the... more
The overall trend in waste generation, including hazardous waste, is upwards. The 6th EAP objective of substantially reducing waste generation has neither been achieved nor is likely to be met in the coming decades unless production and consumption... more
The management of waste has improved, with many countries recycling and recovering more, but more efforts are needed if the EU is to become a 'recycling society'. Implementation of existing legislation remains crucial, especially on the illegal... more
The environmental pressures of Europe's consumption and production patterns, potentially resulting in damage to ecosystems and human health impacts, spread far beyond its borders. Most outlooks predict continued growth in the use of material... more
Policy has only recently begun to address the challenges of the growing use of resources. Most actions taken to date do not comprehensively address the upstream causes of growth, focusing instead on the downstream consequences. As yet, there... more
Many European river basins and waters have been altered by such human activities as water abstraction, land drainage, and dams. These often lead to major adverse ecological effects and leave limited space for natural habitats. Because of these... more
Water scarcity and droughts have severe consequences for many economic sectors. Over-abstraction is causing low river flows, lowered groundwater levels and the drying-up of wetlands, with detrimental impacts on freshwater ecosystems. Climate... more
Over the past ten years Europe has suffered more than 175 major floods, causing deaths, the displacement of people and large economic losses. Climate change is projected to increase the intensity and frequency of floods. more
In the past, European water management has focused on increasing supply through deep wells, dams and reservoirs, desalination and large-scale water–transfer infrastructures. Future water management will benefit from applying an ecosystems... more
Europe cannot endlessly increase its water supply, we must reduce demand. Policies are needed to encourage demand management. Demand measures could include the use of economic instruments; water loss controls; water-reuse and recycling; increased... more
Good water resource management is required to meet the needs of a resource efficient future, sustain human and economic development and maintain the essential functions of our water ecosystems. The solutions lie in more integrated and sustainable... more
Europe’s freshwaters contain a number of pollutants including nutrients, metals, pesticides, pathogenic micro-organisms, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These can have adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems, degrading habitats and... more
The Water Framework Directive, the single most important piece of legislation relating to the quality of Europe’s fresh and coastal waters, aims to attain good ecological and chemical status by 2015. For a number of freshwater bodies, substantial... more
Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, together with comparable non-EU legislation, has led to improvements in wastewater treatment across much of the continent. This has resulted in reduced point discharges of nutrients... more
Implemented measures need to account for driving forces that could otherwise affect water quality over the coming decades, including climate change, increasing global food demand and an expansion of the cultivation of bioenergy crops. Such measures... more
Diffuse pollution from both agriculture and urban areas remains a major pressure on Europe’s freshwater. Cost-effective measures to tackle both sources exist and can be implemented through the river basin management plans of the Water Framework... more
Removing pollution is expensive, uses energy and chemicals, and results in the generation of wastes. Controlling pollutants at source, however, decreases their discharge to freshwaters and reduces the need for treatment. There is considerable... more
Air pollution damages human health and the environment. Considerable progress has been made in Europe to reduce emissions and exposure to different air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and lead (Pb). However, despite reductions, certain... more
As the amounts of acidifying air pollutants have fallen, the area of acid-sensitive ecosystems (such as freshwaters and forest soils) adversely affected in Europe has considerably reduced. Nonetheless, biological recovery in freshwaters is slow.... more
European air pollutant concentrations still frequently exceed limit values set by the EU Air Quality Directives. Many Member States have either not complied, or will not comply by the required target dates, with legally-binding air quality limits... more
Only 14 European countries expect to comply with national 2010 emission ceilings for four pollutants (NOx, NMVOC, SO2 and NH3) set under EU and international legislation. The ceiling for nitrogen oxides (NOx) remains by far the most difficult... more
As European emissions decrease, there is increasing recognition of the importance of inter-continental transport of air pollutants and its contribution to poor air quality in Europe. This contribution is particularly large for ozone, persistent... more
Air pollution and climate change share common sources of emissions – primarily from fuel combustion in industry and households, transport and agriculture. A number of air pollutants contribute to changes in atmospheric radiative forcing. Many... more
For the three-quarters of Europe's population that lives in cities and towns, a good urban environment is a precondition for a good quality of life. This quality of life depends inter alia on clean air and water, efficient transport, low noise... more
Despite substantial reductions in some urban air pollutants, data for the period 1997 to 2008 show that for any given year up to 40 to 60 % of urban citizens can be exposed to concentrations of either particulate matter or ozone above the EU... more
Cities, due to the high concentration of people and activities, deliver and demand goods and services that impact their own areas and regions far away. While cities in Europe contribute 69 % of the continent's CO2 emissions, an urban resident... more
Despite some improvements, European cities and their inhabitants will still face a number of important challenges in the future. They are highly vulnerable to many impacts of climate change such as heat waves, water scarcity, flooding, and related... more
Cities can be considered as 'ecosystems', albeit with a high technical component. Their urban metabolism is an open and dynamic system, which consumes, transforms and releases materials and energy, develops and adapts to changes, and interacts... more
The urban environment is under pressure from sources both inside and outside individual urban areas, and local situations are influenced by national and European legislation as well as programmes. Therefore, a broadly integrated approach from... more
11 countries exceeded the 2010 'ceilings' for the four important air pollutants regulated under the LRTAP Protocol: NOx, NMVOC, SOx and NH. These pollutants can lead to breathing problems, acid rain and eutrophication. more
Europe's economy is heavily dependent on imported raw materials — in 2011 approximately 1 600 million tonnes of raw materials were imported into Europe – that’s about 3.2 tonnes per person. Fuels accounted for most of this amount. more
There were 12.8 million new vehicles registered in the EU in 2011. The average CO2 emissions for these cars was 135.7 grams CO2 per kilometre, which is 4.6g CO2/km less than in 2010 – a reduction of 3.3 %. more
There were 8,700 pure electric cars registered in the EU in 2011. While this number is only 0.07 % of new cars registered, so did not significantly influence the EU average emissions, it is a 10-fold increase on 2010. more
Just three areas are estimated to be responsible for approximately three quarters of the environmental impacts from household consumption. These areas are eating and drinking; housing and infrastructure; and mobility. more
Human activities are the main cause of poor air quality, but natural sources of air pollution also play a role. The most common natural sources of particulate matter in Europe are desert dust, volcanoes, forest and grassland fires, and salt... more
The European economy generates more than five tonnes of waste, including hazardous waste, per inhabitant each year, and each citizen throws on average half a tonne of household waste into the bin. more
Every 10% increase in green space is associated with a reduction in diseases equivalent to an increase of five years of life expectancy. more
Onshore wind and biomass electricity installed capacity are projected to double between 2010 and 2020, with solar photovoltaic capacity to triple over the same period. more
Over one year a mature tree will take up about 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in exchange release oxygen. Each year, 1.3 million trees are estimated to remove more than 2500 tonnes of pollutants from the air. more
The global population will still be growing midway through the 21st century but at a slower rate than in the past. People will live longer, be better educated and migrate more. Some populations will increase as others shrink. Migration is... more
The breakneck pace of technological change brings risks and opportunities, not least for developed regions like Europe. These include in particular the emerging cluster of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information and communication technology. Innovations... more
Registration of new cars in the EU increased constantly between 2001 and 2007, peaking at 15.5 million cars, but has fallen continuously since. Between 2010 and 2011 the number of new car registrations increased in many Member States, notably... more
Efficiency measures have successfully reduced key emissions to air caused by household consumption in the EU-27 between 2000 and 2007. However, growing consumption and changes in consumption patterns have partly offset these gains. For example,... more
The risk of exposure to new, emerging and re-emerging diseases, to accidents and new pandemics, grows with increasing mobility of people and goods, climate change and poverty. Vulnerable Europeans could be severely affected. more
More jobs at higher income levels are created by recycling than compared to landfilling or incinerating waste. Overall employment related to the recycling of materials in European countries increased by 45 % between 2000 and 2007. more
Modelling studies for urban temperatures over the next 70 years project that in urban areas where the green cover is reduced by 10 %, urban temperatures could increase by 8.2 °C above current levels. more
The concentration of 'Kyoto gases' reached 438 ppm CO2-equivalent in 2008. more
By 2100, the concentration of 'Kyoto gases' is projected to increase to 638-1360 ppm CO2-equivalent. more
The decade 2000-2009 was the warmest on record. Europe has warmed more than the global average. more
By 2100, ocean acidity could be higher than during the past 20 million years. more
The third lowest minimum of Arctic summer sea ice occurred in September 2010. more
In 2007, the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m above the 1990 level by 2100. more
Recent projections show a maximum increase of sea level of about 1.0 m by 2100, while higher values up to 2.0 m cannot be excluded. more
The EU contributes around 12 % of annual global anthropogenic direct greenhouse gas emissions. more
Global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to keep average world temperature increases below 2° C. more
The UNEP Montreal Protocol resulted in a significant reduction of emissions of some potent greenhouse gases. more
According to preliminary estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions were 17 % below 1990 levels in 2009. more
The EU-15 is on track to meet its common Kyoto Protocol target (8 % reduction compared to 1990 levels). Other EU Member States with individual Kyoto targets are also on track. more
Temperature rises of 2° C or more are likely to cause major disruptions. more
Temperature is expected to increase this century by at least 0.6° C due to past emissions. more
So far, 11 European countries, and a few regions and cities, have adopted climate adaptation strategies. more
More than 10 000 non-native species are now present in Europe, 10–15 % of which are considered to have negative economic or ecological effects. more
Protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites in EU Member States, now account for 22 % of the terrestrial area of EEA member countries. more
Many animal species are threatened with extinction in the pan-European region, including approximately 15 % of mammals, 19 % of reptiles, 23 % of amphibians and a significant number of invertebrates. more
In 2020, an estimated 346 million international tourists will travel to the Mediterranean, putting extra pressure on already fragile ecosystems. more
Agro-ecosystems in Europe have a total annual economic value of around EUR 150 billion. more
Analysed land stock across the 36 European countries was 5.42 million km2. 1.3 % of this area (68 353 km2) changed land-cover type from 2000-2006. more
The three largest land types in Europe are forests (35 %), arable land and permanent crops (25 %), and pastures and mixed mosaics (17 %). About 4 % of Europe is covered by artificial surfaces. more
Land covered by artificial surfaces (e.g. for residential areas, industrial and commercial sites) increased by 6 258 km2 (3.4 %) from 2000-2006. more
Forested land increased by 1 114 km2 from 2000-2006. more
43 % of the total area occupied by Natura 2000 sites in the EU-27 countries is located in mountain areas. more
115 million ha, or 12 % of Europe’s total land area, are affected by water erosion. 42 million ha are affected by wind erosion. more
Europe's soils store about 73 to 79 billion tonnes of carbon. Some 45 % of soils in Europe have a low or very low organic matter content (meaning 0-2 % organic carbon) and 45 % have a medium content (meaning 2-6 % organic carbon). more
Some authors estimate 36 % of European subsoils as having high or very high susceptibility to compaction. Other sources report 32 % of soils being highly vulnerable and 18 % moderately affected. (The use of heavy machinery in agriculture can... more
Salinisation stands for the accumulation of basic substances mainly from minerals in water and fertilizers which makes soils unsuitable for plant growth. It affects approximatly 3.8 million ha in Europe. The main driver is the inappropriate... more
500,000 sites with contaminated soil are are currently identified in Europe and need remediation. but up to 3.5 million sites may be potentially affected. more
30 % of Europe’s fish stocks (for which information exists) are fished outside safe biological levels. more
The consumption of fish in Europe has been increasing over the last 15 years while fish catches from European waters have decreased. more
Where marine species and habitat types have been assessed, the majority are found to be in unfavourable or unknown condition; only 10 % of habitats and 2 % of species are found in good condition. more
The sea surface temperature changes in the European regional seas have been up to six times greater than in the global oceans in the past 25 years. more
The current reduction of 0.1 in pH that has occurred over the industrial era translates to a 30 % increase in ocean acidity. This change has occurred at a rate that is about a hundred times faster than any change in acidity experienced during... more
Private consumption expenditure grew by 35 % in the EU-27 Member States between 1990 and 2007 with the greatest growth in the EU-12 Member States (75 %). more
One-person households consume, on average, 38 % more products, 42 % more packaging and 55 % more electricity per person than four-person households. more
Meat imports to the EU-15 increased by 120 % from 1990-2007. Cereal imports increased by 83 %, frozen vegetables by 174 %, and bananas by 92 % over the same period. more
Consumption of bottled water has risen markedly in many European countries. The EU average was 105 litres per person in 2009 and varied from 16 litres in Finland to 189 litres in Italy. Energy is used in the manufacturing and transportation... more
Personal mobility is estimated to cause 20 % of greenhouse gases, 19 % of acidifying emissions, 32 % of tropospheric ozone precursors and 15 % of material resource use activated by national consumption. more
In 2008, eco-industry in the EU-27 countries had a turnover of 319 billion EUR, accounted for 2.5 % of EU GDP, and employed 3.4 million people. more
An average European citizen uses about four times more resources than one in Africa and three times more than one in Asia, but half of that in the Unites States, Canada or Australia. more
It is estimated that the generation of waste electrical and electronic equipment will increase by roughly 11 % between 2008 and 2014 across the EU-27 countries, Norway and Switzerland, mainly due to rapid technological advancement accompanied... more
There are large variations in the amounts of packaging waste between countries, ranging from 41 kg per person in Bulgaria to 245 kg per person in Ireland. more
Of the 8.2 billion tonnes of materials consumed in EU-27 countries in 2007, minerals accounted for 52 %, fossil fuels for 23 %, biomass for 21 % and metals for 4 %. more
In Europe as a whole, 45 % of freshwater abstraction is for cooling in energy production, followed by: agriculture, 22 %; public water supply, 21 %; and industry, 12 %. In southern Europe, agriculture accounts for more than half of total national... more
Public water demand in eastern Europe has declined by 40 % since the early 1990s as a result of higher water prices and the economic downturn. A similar but less marked reduction in demand is apparent in western Europe over recent years, driven... more
Over the past ten years, Europe suffered more than 175 major floods, causing deaths, the displacement of people and large economic losses. more
A comparison of the impacts of droughts in the EU between 1976-1990 and 1991-2006 shows a doubling in both area and population affected. more
Each European uses, on average, 100-200 litres of tap water a day, but if the amount of water embedded in products (virtual water) such as food, paper, and clothes is included, water use is often 10 to 20 times higher. more
Despite improvements in some regions, diffuse pollution from agriculture remains a major cause of the poor water quality currently observed in parts of Europe. Agriculture contributes 50-80 % of the total nitrogen load observed in Europe’s... more
In northern Europe, over 80 % of the population is connected to municipal treatment works via a sewer network while in central Europe the figure is above 95 %. Elsewhere in Europe, connection rates are lower, although in the case of the newer... more
The quality of inland bathing waters – rivers and lakes – in the EU has improved significantly since 1990. In 2009, 89 % of inland bathing areas complied with mandatory values, while 71 % complied with the more stringent guide values. more
A substantial proportion of Europe’s freshwaters are at risk of not achieving good status under the EU Water Framework Directive by 2015 (40 % of surface waters and 30 % of groundwaters, in 2004). more
In 2008, ten of 12 waterborne disease outbreaks reported in the EU were linked to the contamination of private wells. more
Europe has significantly cut emissions of the main air pollutants in recent decades, greatly reducing exposure to substances such as sulphur dioxide and lead. more
Fine particle pollution (PM2.5) is estimated to account for some 5 million lost years of life in the EEA-32 countries every year. more
In the EEA-32 countries, the area of sensitive ecosystems exposed to excess acidification from air pollution fell by about 80 % from 1990–2010. more
Exposure to ground-level ozone concentrations above critical health levels is associated with more than 20 000 premature deaths in the EU-25 annually. more
Only 14 European countries expect to comply with all four pollutant-specific emission ceilings set under EU and international legislation for 2010. more
In Europe, around 75 % of the population lives in urban areas and this is projected to increase to about 80 % by 2020. more
Cities emit 69 % of Europe's CO2. more
Urban transport accounts for 70 % of the pollutants and 40 % of the greenhouse gas emissions from European road transport. more
A city affects a large area outside its own boundaries. For example, London alone is thought to need an area of almost 300 times its geographical size to satisfy its demands and for disposal of its waste and emissions. more
Air pollutants, including fine particles and ozone precursors, can travel thousands of kilometres across the continent by air. In many cities, only a part of local air pollution is generated by the city itself. more
The costs of air pollution from the 10 000 largest polluting facilities in Europe was between € 102 and 169 billion in 2009. A small number of facilities caused the majority of these damage costs; fifty per cent of the costs occurred as a... more
Across the European Union, agriculture uses about a quarter of water diverted from the natural environment, though this can be up to 80% in southern Europe. more
Public water supply accounts for approximately a fifth of water use across Europe – and over a quarter of this is used just to flush the toilet more
Some estimates calculate that approximately a quarter of water abstracted for irrigation in Europe could be saved, just by changing the type of pipe or channel used. more
Inefficient use of water leads to higher energy use, with extra financial and environmental costs. While the energy needed to pump and treat freshwater into drinking water is typically around 0.6 kWh/m3, desalination of seawater adds approximately... more
Home energy use is responsible overall for 25 % of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union. more
When the indirect emissions are considered, greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector double (from 12 to 25 %) and the commercial sector trebles (from 5 to 15 %). Industry jumps from 15 to 26% when indirect emissions are factored... more
Recycling can meet a large proportion of the economy’s resources demand, alleviating pressure on ecosystems to provide resources and assimilate waste. Recycling already meets substantial proportions of demand for some resource groups, notably... more
Offshore wind energy capacity in Europe is projected to increase 17-fold between 2010 and 2020. more
11.7 % of energy used in the EU came from renewable sources in 2009. more
Air pollution by the facilities covered by EEA’s analysis cost every European citizen approximately € 200-330 on average in 2009. more
Road transport is responsible for 17.5 % of overall greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and its emissions increased by 23 % between 1990 and 2009. more
By increasing tax on pollution and other environmentally-damaging activities, governments can use the extra funds to provide incentives for innovation, such as developing renewable energy. For advanced economies like the EU, such schemes also... more
Water basin management should be more closely integrated with spatial planning. Costs can fall on those who do not benefit – for example, water pollution from agriculture in one territory that flows downstream to others. Also, benefits may... more
An increasingly urban world will probably mean spiralling consumption and greater affluence for many. But it also means greater poverty for the urban underprivileged. Poor urban living conditions and associated environmental and health risks... more

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