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Concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total ammonium have decreased in European rivers in the period 1992 to 2012 (Fig. 1), mainly due to general improvement in waste water treatment.
Since 2005, average nitrate concentrations in European groundwater have declined and in 2011, the mean concentration had almost returned to the 1992 level.
The average nitrate concentration in European rivers declined by 0.03 milligrams per liter of nitrogen (mg N/l) (0.8%) per year over the period 1992 to 2012.
The decline in nitrate concentration reflects the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate, as well as improvements in wastewater treatment.
Average orthophosphate concentration in European rivers has decreased markedly over the last two decades (0.003 milligrams per liter of phosphorous (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 concentration reflects both improvements in wastewater treatment and the reduction of phosphorus in detergents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The map shows the main drought events in Europe in 2002 - 2011
The sea region data series are calculated as the average of annual mean data from river monitoring stations in each sea region. The data thus represents rivers or river basins draining into that particular sea. Only complete series after inter/extrapolation are included (see indicator specification). The number of river monitoring stations included per sea region is given in parentheses. There were no stations with consistent data series on BOD7 in rivers draining to the Arctic Ocean. BOD7 data has been recalculated into BOD5 data.
The sea region data series are calculated as the average of annual mean data from river monitoring stations in each sea region. The data thus represents rivers or river basins draining into that particular sea. Only complete series after inter/extrapolation are included (see indicator specification). The number of river monitoring stations per sea region is given in parentheses.
The data series per region are calculated as the average of the annual mean for river monitoring stations in the region. Only complete series after inter/extrapolation are included (see indicator specification). There were no stations with complete series after inter/extrapolation in the South and Southeast regions. The number of lake monitoring stations included per geographical region is given in parentheses
The results were computed using the 2008 Critical Loads database. Deposition data was made available by the LRTAP Convention EMEP Centre for Integrated Assessment Modelling (CIAM) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in autumn 2007.
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.
Ozone (O 3 ) 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. Concentrations in 2009 were on the average lower than in 2008. The effect-related accumulated concentrations, addressing exposure of crops to ozone over several summer months, shows large year-to-year variations. Over the period 1996-2009 there is a tendency to increased exposure, although this development has not proven to be statistically significant.
In 2010, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.4 % compared to 2009. This was due to the return to economic growth in many countries and a colder winter leading to an increased demand for heating. However, the increase in emissions was contained by a move from coal to natural gas and the sustained strong growth in renewable energy generation. This increase noted in 2010 follows a 7 % drop in 2009 (compared to 2008), largely due to the economic recession and, again, the increased production of renewable energy.
With respect to 1990 levels, EU‑27 emissions were decreased by 15.4 % (Figure 1).
At a sectoral level, emissions decreased in all main sectors except the transport one, where they increased considerably.
In the EU-15, 2010 GHG emissions increased by 2.1 % compared to 2009 – an increase of 78.5 Mt CO 2 eq in absolute values. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 10.6 % below the 1990 level in 2010 or 11 % below the base-year level. CO 2 emissions from public electricity and heat production also decreased by 6.1% 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 EEA's 2012 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections .
The quality of water at designated bathing waters in Europe (coastal and inland) has improved significantly since 1990.
Compliance with mandatory values in EU coastal bathing waters increased from just below 80 % in 1990 to 93.1 % in 2011. Compliance with guide values likewise rose from over 68 % to 80.1 % in 2011.
Compliance with mandatory values in EU inland bathing waters increased from over 52 % in 1990 to 89.9 % in 2011. Similarly, the rate of compliance with guide values moved from over 36 % in 1990 to 70.4 % in 2011.
Concentrations of BOD and total ammonium have decreased in European rivers in the period 1992 to 2010 (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 2004.
The average nitrate concentration in European rivers decreased by approximately 11% between 1992 and 2010 (from 2.5 to 2.2 mg/l N), 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, being more than halved between 1992 and 2010 (54% decrease). Also average lake phosphorus concentration decreased over the period 1992-2010 (by 31%), the major part of the decrease occurring in the beginning of the period, but is still ongoing. 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.
Time series of the indexed values of GDP, stocks of cars in the EU27, total CO2 emissions of cars, total car kilometres travelled, total fuel consumption of private cars and average specific fuel consumption of cars.
The Figure is showing average annual growth rates of different means of transport within the EU-27 in the period between 1995-2008. (Actual yearly growth rates are of course differing from the averages used in the figure) The values for Air and Sea travel only include domestic and Intra-EU-27 transport. Most numbers are based on estimates and data for Air and Sea are provisional estimates.
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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.
PDF generated on 05 Aug 2015, 08:46 AM
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