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Passenger transport demand in the EU-28 decreased by nearly 1.5 % between 2011 and 2012, following a slight downward trend since its peak in 2009, broken only by a 1 % increase in 2011. Car passenger travel remains the dominant mode, with a share well above 70 %. Air transport grew by 10 % in 2011, but stabilised in 2012. However, it retained its pre-crisis modal share (9 %). Rail passengers’ share has grown slightly in recent years, and accounted for 7 % in 2012, after the slight increase in the last two years (2011 and 2012).
Land passenger transport demand in non-EU-28 countries kept growing overall in 2012, with a 1.7 % growth in Iceland, and 1.5 % in Switzerland. Norwegian land transport demand figures remain stable, with car and rail demand growth (1.3 % and 3.6 % respectively) offsetting a 20.2 % loss in rail. The quick deterioration of rail passenger transport in Turkey (-22 % in 2012) was accompanied by a significant increase (6.2 % in 2012) in total land transport demand, sustained by a 10.5 % growth in car travel. It is worth noting that, according to Eurocontrol (Eurocontrol, 2014), Turkey is also the main driver of air passenger traffic growth in the European skies.
Average nitrate concentrations in European groundwater increased from 1992 to 1998, but have declined again since 2005.
The average nitrate concentration in European rivers declined by 0.03 mg N/l (0.8%) per year over the period 1992 to 2012.
The decline in nitrate concentrations reflects the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate as well as improvement in wastewater treatment.
Average orthophosphate concentration in European rivers has decreased markedly over the last two decades (0.003 mg P/l or 2.1% per year).
Also average lake phosphorus concentration decreased over the period 1992-2012 (0.0004 mg P/l, or 0.8% per year).
The decrease in phosphorus concentrations reflects both improvement in wastewater treatment and reduction in phosphorus in detergents.
Three independent long records of global average near-surface (land and ocean) annual temperature show that the decade between 2004 and 2013 was 0.75 °C to 0.81 °C warmer than the pre-industrial average.
The rate of change in global average temperature has been close to the indicative limit of 0.2°C per decade in recent decades.
Variations of global mean near-surface temperature on decadal time scales are strongly influenced by natural factors. Over the last 10-15 years global near-surface temperature rise has been slower than in previous decades. This recent slow-down in surface warming is due in roughly equal measure to reduced radiative forcing from natural factors (volcanic eruptions and solar activity) and to a cooling contribution from internal variability within the climate system (the redistribution of heat to the deeper ocean).
The Arctic region has warmed significantly more rapidly than the global mean, and this pattern is projected to continue into the future.
The best estimate 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).
Annual average temperature across the European land areas has warmed more than global average temperature, and slightly more than global land temperature. The average temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2004–2013) is 1.3°C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest decade on record.
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.
Extremes of cold have become less frequent in Europe while warm extremes have become more frequent. Since 1880 the average length of summer heat waves over western Europe doubled and the frequency of hot days almost tripled.
Total emissions of primary sub-10µm particulate matter (PM 10 ) have reduced by 24% across the EEA-33 region between 1990 and 2011, driven by a 35% reduction in emissions of the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) fraction. Emissions of particulates between 2.5 and 10 µm have reduced by 12% over the same period; the difference of this trend to that of PM 2.5 is due to significantly increased emissions in the 2.5 to 10 µm fraction from 'Road transport' and 'Agriculture' (of 20% and 6% respectively) since 1990.
Of this reduction in PM 10 emissions, % has taken place in the 'Energy Production and Distribution' sector due to factors including the fuel-switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and improvements in the performance of pollution abatement equipment installed at industrial facilities.
Emissions of the main ground-level ozone precursor pollutants have decreased across the EEA-33 region between 1990 and 2011; nitrogen oxides (NO X ) by 44%, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) by 57%, carbon monoxide (CO) by 61%, and methane (CH 4 ) by 29%.
This decrease has been achieved mainly as a result of the introduction of catalytic converters for vehicles, which has significantly reduced emissions of NO X and CO from the road transport sector, the main source of ozone precursor emissions.
The EU-28 as a whole reported 2011 emissions at 4% below the 2010 NECD ceiling for NO X , one of the two ozone precursors (NO X and NMVOC) for which emission limits exist under the EU's NEC Directive (NECD). Total NMVOC emissions in the EU-28 were 22% below the 2010 NECD limit in 2011, however, seven of individual Member States did not meet their ceilings for one or both of these two pollutants.
Of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings for 2010 set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), all reported NMVOC emissions in 2011 that were lower than their respective ceilings, however Liechtenstein and Norway reported 2011 NO X emissions higher than their ceiling for 2010.
Emissions of the acidifying pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NO X ), sulphur oxides (SO X ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), have decreased significantly in most of the individual EEA member countries between 1990 and 2011. Emissions of SO X have decreased by 74%, NO X by 44% and NH 3 by 25% since 1990 within the EEA-33.
Data reported under the NECD indicates that in 2011 the EU-28 as a whole met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of NO X , SO X and NH 3 below 2010 target as specified by the EU’s National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NECD). However, the EU-15 as a whole and seven individual Member States, all of which are in the EU-15 group, reported emissions in 2011 above their NECD emission ceilings for NO X . Four EU member states reported 2011 NH 3 emissions above the levels of their NECD ceilings, three of which are in the group of fifteen pre-2004 EU member states.
Three additional countries which are current EEA Member States have emission ceilings for 2010 under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). Both Liechtenstein and Norway reported NO X and NH 3 emissions in 2011 that were higher than their respective 2010 ceilings.
Eutrophication The magnitude of the risk of ecosystem eutrophication and its geographical coverage has diminished only slightly over the years. The predictions for 2010 and 2020 indicate that the risk is still widespread over Europe. This is in conflict with the EU's long-term objective of not exceeding critical loads of airborne acidifying and eutrophying substances in sensitive ecosystem areas (National Emission Ceilings Directive, 6th Environmental Action Programme, Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution).
Acidification The situation has considerably improved and it is predicted to improve further. The interim environmental objective for 2010 (National Emission Ceilings Directive) will most likely not be met completely. However, the European ecosystem areas where the critical load will be exceeded is predicted to have declined by more than 80 % in 2010 with 1990 as a base year. By 2020, it is expected that the risk of ecosystem acidification will only be an issue at some hot spots, in particular at the border area between the Netherlands and Germany.
Most vegetation and agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels exceeding the long term objective given in the EU Air Quality Directive. A significant fraction is also exposed to levels above the 2010 target value defined in the Directive. Compared to 2009, the ozone indicators show a mixed behavior Averaged over all rural background stations, the concentration relevant for the exposure of crops is slightly higher. However, the agricultural area exposed to concentrations above the target value did not increase in 2009 and 2010 compared to previous years, but the area exposed to levels between 12 000 and 18 000 (µg/m 3 ).hour is larger than in the previous years. With respect to the exposure of forests, the concentrations are similar compared to previous years.
The effect-related concentrations, addressing exposure of crops to ozone over several summer months, show large year-to-year variations. Over the period 1996-2010 there is a tendency to increased exposure until 2006; and a tendency to decreasing levels after 2006. However, due to the large year-to-year variations, this development has not proven to be statistically significant.
Concentrations of BOD and total ammonium have decreased in European rivers in the period 1992 to 2011 (Fig. 1), mainly due to general improvement in wastewater treatment.
See also WISE interactive maps: Mean annual BOD in rivers and Mean annual Total Ammonium in rivers
Average nitrate concentrations in European groundwaters increased from 1992 to 1998, but have declined again since 2005.
On average, the nitrate concentration in European rivers declined by 0.5 mg N/l over the period 1992 to 2011 (20% relative to the average concentration), reflecting the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate as well as improvement in wastewater treatment.
Average orthophosphate concentrations in European rivers have decreased markedly over the last two decades- On average concentrations declined by 0.08 mg P/l between 1992 and 2011 (72% decrease relative to the average concentration). Also average lake phosphorus concentration decreased over the period 1992-2011 (on average by 0.008 mg P/l, or 27% relative to the average concentration). The decrease in phosphorus concentrations reflects both improvement in wastewater treatment and reduction in phosphorus in detergents.
Overall, reductions in the levels of freshwater nutrients over the last two decades primarily reflect improvements in wastewater treatment. Emissions from agriculture continue to be a significant source.
The quality of water at designated bathing waters in Europe (coastal and inland) has improved significantly since 1990.
Compliance with mandatory values (or at least sufficient quality) in EU coastal bathing waters increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to 95.3 % in 2012. Compliance with guide values (or excellent quality) likewise rose from over 68 % to 81.2 % in 2012.
Compliance with mandatory values (or at least sufficient quality) in EU inland bathing waters increased from over 52 % in 1990 to 91% in 2012. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values (or excellent quality) moved from over 36 % in 1990 to 72 % in 2012.
Land take by the expansion of residential areas and construction sites is the main cause of the increase in the coverage of urban land at the European level. Agricultural zones and, to a lesser extent, forests and semi-natural and natural areas, are disappearing in favour of the development of artificial surfaces. This affects biodiversity since it decreases habitats, the living space of a number of species, and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them. The annual land take in European countries assessed by 2006 Corine land cover project (EEA39 except Greece) was approximately 108 000 ha/year in 2000-2006. In 21 countries covered by both periods (1990-2000 and 2000-2006) the annual land take decreased by 9 % in the later period. The composition of land taken areas changed, too. More arable land and permanent crops and less pastures and mosaic farmland were taken by artificial development then in 1990-2000. Identified trends are expected to change little when next assessment for 2006-2012 becomes available in 2014.
In 2011, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 3.3 % compared to 2010. This was mainly due to the milder winter of 2011 in many countries, leading to lower heating demand from the residential and commercial sectors. In general, emissions from natural gas combustion fell, while emissions resulting from solid fuel consumption increased due to higher coal consumption in 2011 compared to 2010 levels.
This decrease in emissions continues the overall decreasing trend since 2004, with the exception of 2010, when emissions temporarily increased due to increased economic growth in many countries coupled with a colder winter. With respect to 1990 levels, EU‑27 emissions have decreased by 18.4 % ( Figure 1 ). At a sectoral level, emissions decreased in all main emitting sectors except transport and production and consumption of fluorinated gases (F-gases), where they increased considerably in percentage terms. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production decreased by 15.9% compared to 1990.
In the EU-15, 2011 GHG emissions decreased by 4.2 % compared to 2010 – a decrease of 159.6 Mt CO 2 - eq in absolute values. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 14.7 % below the 1990 level in 2011 or 14.9 % below the base-year level. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production are also decreased by 9.3% with respect to 1990. The European Union remains well on track to achieve its Kyoto Protocol target (an 8% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions compared to base-year level, to be achieved during the period from 2008 to 2012). A detailed assessment of progress towards Kyoto targets and 2020 targets in Europe is provided in the EEA's 2012 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections and will be updated in October 2013.
In 2010, the highest concentrations of oxidized nitrogen were found in the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga and Kiel Bay, and in Belgian, Dutch and German coastal waters in the Greater North Sea. Reported stations in the Northern Spanish and Croatian coastal waters also showed high concentration levels. The highest orthophosphate concentrations were found in the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga and Kiel Bay, and in Irish, Belgian, Dutch and German coastal waters in the Greater North Sea. Coastal stations along Northern Spain and Southern France also showed high concentration levels.
Between 1985 and 2010, overall nutrient concentrations have been either stable or decreasing in stations reported to the EEA in the Greater North Sea, Celtic Seas and in the Baltic Sea. However, this decrease has been more pronounced for nitrogen. Assessments for the overall Mediterranean and Black Sea regions were not possible, data only being available for stations in France and Croatia.
For oxidized nitrogen concentrations, 14% of all the reported stations showed decreasing trends, whereas only 2% showed increasing trends. Decreases were most evident in the Baltic Sea (coastal waters of Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and open waters) and in southern part of the coast of the Greater North Sea. Increasing trends were mainly found in Croatian coastal stations.
For orthophosphate concentrations, 10% of all the reported stations showed a decrease. This was most evident in coastal and open water stations in the Greater North Sea, and in coastal stations in the Baltic Sea. Increasing orthophosphate trends, observed in 6% of the reported stations, were mainly detected in Irish, Danish and Finnish coastal waters (Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia) and in open waters of the Baltic Proper.
In 2010, the highest summer chlorophyll-a concentrations were observed in coastal areas and estuaries where nutrient concentrations are also generally high (see CSI 021 Nutrients in transitional, coastal and marine waters). These include the Gulf of Riga, Gulf of Gdansk, Gulf of Finland and along the German coast in the Baltic Sea, coastal areas in Belgium and The Netherlands in the Greater North Sea and in few locations along the coast of Ireland and France in the Celtic Seas and Bay of Biscay, respectively. High chlorophyll concentrations were also observed along the Gulf of Lions and in Montenegro coastal waters in the Mediterranean Sea, and along Romanian coastal waters in the Black Sea. Low summer chlorophyll concentrations were mainly observed in the Kattegat and open sea stations in the Greater North Sea, and in open sea stations in southern Baltic Sea.
Between 1985 to 2010, decreasing chlorophyll concentrations (showed in 8% of all the stations in the European seas reported to the EEA) were predominantly found along the southern coast of the Greater North Sea, along the Finnish coast in the Bothnian Bay in the Baltic Sea and in a few stations in the Western Mediterranean Sea and Adriatic Sea. In the Black Sea, it was not possible to make an overall assessment due to the lack of time series data. Increasing concentrations (observed in 5% of the reported stations) were generally observed in coastal locations in the Northern Baltic Sea but also in the open sea stations outside the north of the Celtic Seas. Most stations (87%) however showed no changes over time.
Wastewater treatment in all parts of Europe has improved during the last 15-20 years. The percentage of the population connected to wastewater treatment in the Southern, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe has increased over the last ten years. Latest values of population connected to wastewater treatment in the Southern countries are comparable to the values of Central and Northern countries, whereas the values of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are still relatively low compared to Central and Northern Europe.
One of the most important objectives of the EU policy is to decouple waste generation from economic growth. Data shows that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation in the EU-27 has been stabilising since 2000 albeit a high level of around 520 kg/capita. The effect of the economic downturn at the end of 2008 can be a reason of the further reductions in the amount of municipal waste generation from 2008 to 2011.
Total emissions of primary sub-10µm particulate matter (PM 10 ) have reduced by 26% across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010, driven by a 28% reduction in emissions of the fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) fraction. Emissions of particulates between 2.5 and 10 µm have reduced by 21% over the same period; the difference of this trend to that of PM 2.5 is due to significantly increased emissions in the 2.5 to 10 µm fraction from 'Road transport' and 'Agriculture' (of 50% and 15% respectively) since 1990.
Of this reduction in PM 10 emissions, 39% has taken place in the 'Energy Production and Distribution' sector due to factors including the fuel-switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and improvements in the performance of pollution abatement equipment installed at industrial facilities.
Emissions of the main ground-level ozone precursor pollutants have decreased across the EEA-32 region between 1990 and 2010; nitrogen oxides (NO X ) by 42%, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) by 53%, carbon monoxide (CO) by 61%, and methane (CH 4 ) by 32%.
This decrease has been achieved mainly as a result of the introduction of catalytic converters for vehicles, which has significantly reduced emissions of NO X and CO from the road transport sector, the main source of ozone precursor emissions.
The EU-27 as a whole has not met its 2010 target to reduce emissions of NO X , one of the two ozone precursors (NO X and NMVOC) for which emission limits exist under the EU's NEC Directive (NECD). Whilst total NMVOC emissions in the EU-27 were below the NECD limit in 2010, a number of individual Member States did not meet their ceilings for one or both of these two pollutants.
Of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings for 2010 set under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), all reported NMVOC emissions in 2010 that were lower than their respective ceilings, however Liechtenstein and Norway reported NO X emissions higher than their ceiling for 2010.
Emissions of the acidifying pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NO X ), sulphur oxides (SO X ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), have decreased significantly in most of the individual EEA member countries between 1990 and 2010. Emissions of SO X have decreased by 75%, NO X by 42% and NH 3 emissions by 28% since 1990 within the EEA-32.
Data reported under the NECD indicates that the EU-27 as a whole has met its overall target to reduce emissions of SO X and NH 3 as specified by the EU’s National Emissions Ceiling Directive (NECD). However twelve individual Member States, and the EU as a whole, reported emissions in the 2010 above their NECD 2010 emission ceilings for NO X , although the twelve Member States joining the EU in 2004/7 reported combined emissions below their collective NECD ceiling. Three EU-27 member states also reported 2010 NH 3 emissions above the levels of their NECD ceilings, neither of which are in the group of twelve new EU member states.
Of the three non-EU countries having emission ceilings for 2010 under the UNECE/CLRTAP Gothenburg protocol (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), both Liechtenstein and Norway reported NO X emissions in 2010 that were substantially higher than their respective 2010 ceilings. Liechtenstein also reported 2010 NH 3 emissions above the level of their Gothenburg protocol 2010 ceiling.
The total production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in EEA member countries has decreased significantly since the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 - nowadays it is practically zero. Globally, the implementation of the Montreal Protocol has led to a decrease in the atmospheric burden of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) in the lower atmosphere and in the stratosphere.
Many of the ODS are also potent greenhouse gases in their own right, but as they are governed through the Montreal Protocol, they are not separately regulated under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Thus the phasing out of ODS under the Montreal Protocol has also avoided global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2010, it has been estimated that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved under the Montreal Protocol was 5 to 6 times larger than that which will result from the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol first commitment period, 2008-2012.
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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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