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In 2014, the transport sector contributed 25.5 % of total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions. The figure decreases to 21 %, if international aviation and maritime emissions are excluded.
Emissions from t ransport (including aviation) in 2014 were 20.1 % above 1990 levels, despite a decline between 2008 and 2013. Emissions increased by 0.7 % compared with the previous year. International aviation experienced the largest percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (+97 %), followed by international shipping (+24 %) and road transport (+17 %).
Emissions need to fall by around two thirds by 2050, compared with 1990 levels, in order to meet the long-term 60 % greenhouse gas emission reduction target as set out in the 2011 Transport White Paper.
A significant reduction in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) has been achieved by the EEA-33 countries since 1986. This reduction has largely been driven by the 1987 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Montreal Protocol.
At the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol, EEA-33 consumption was approximately 420 000 ozone-depleting potential tonnes (ODP tonnes). Consumption values around zero were reached in 2002 and have remained consistently so ever since. The European Union (EU) has taken additional measures to reduce the consumption of ODS by means of EU law since the early 1990s. In many aspects, the current EU regulation on substances that deplete the ozone layer (1005/2009/EC) goes further than the Montreal Protocol and it has also brought forward the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the EU.
According to three different observational records of global average annual near-surface (land and ocean) temperature, the last decade (2006–2015) was 0.83 to 0.89 °C warmer than the pre-industrial average, which makes it the warmest decade on record. Of the 16 warmest years on record, 15 have occurred since 2000. The year 2015 was the warmest on record, around 1 °C warmer than the pre-industrial level, followed by 2014.
The average annual temperature for the European land area for the last decade (2006–2015) was around 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level, which makes it the warmest decade on record. Moreover, 2014 and 2015 were jointly the warmest years in Europe since instrumental records began.
Climate models project further increases in global average temperature over the 21st century (for the period 2081–2100 relative to 1986–2005) of between 0.3 and 1.7 °C for the lowest emissions scenario (RCP2.6) and between 2.6 and 4.8 °C for the highest emissions scenario (RCP8.5).
All UNFCCC member countries have agreed on the long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C compared with pre-industrial levels and have agreed to aim to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. For the three highest of the four RCPs, global average temperature increase is projected to exceed 2 °C compared with pre-industrial levels by 2050.
Annual average land temperature over Europe is projected to increase by the end of this century (2071–2100 relative to 1971–2000) in the range of 1 to 4.5 °C under RCP4.5 and 2.5 to 5.5 °C under RCP8.5, which is more than the projected global average increase. The strongest warming is projected across north-eastern Europe and Scandinavia in winter and southern Europe in summer.
The number of warm days (those exceeding the 90th percentile threshold of a baseline period) have almost doubled since 1960 across the European land area.
Europe has experienced several extreme heat waves since 2000 (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2015). Under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), very extreme heat waves as strong as these or even stronger are projected to occur as often as every two years in the second half of the 21st century. The impacts will be particularly strong in southern Europe.
In 2014, EU-28 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 24.4 % below 1990 levels (excluding Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and international aviation). The figure is 23 % if international aviation is included.
The Emissions Trading System (ETS) covers about 42 % of EU emissions. In 2014, ETS emissions were 24 % below 2005 levels.
In sectors not covered by the ETS, GHG emissions decreased by 12.9 % compared to 2005.
In 2013, all Member States where below their Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) target. The 2014 data seem to confirm this trend across the EU.
The EU is on track to reduce GHG emissions by 20 % compared to 1990 by 2020.
Global average concentrations of various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase.
The concentration of CO 2 , the most important greenhouse gas, increased to 397 parts per million (ppm) in 2014 – an increase of 119 ppm (43 %) compared to pre-industrial levels.
The total concentration of all greenhouse gases, including cooling aerosols, reached a value of 441 ppm in CO 2 equivalents in 2014 – an increase of about 3 ppm compared to 2013, and 34 ppm compared to totals measured more than 10 years ago.
The current total concentration of all greenhouse gases implies that the long-term probability of exceeding the 1.5 °C temperature increase, compared to pre-industrial levels, is already more than 50%. The atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration level that would be consistent with limiting global mean temperature increase to less than 2 °C could be exceeded over the next decades, unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.
Since 1990, EU-28 F-gas emissions have experienced significant growth, more than offsetting an intermittent decrease between 1997 and 2001. While PFCs and SF 6 emissions have reduced by a significant degree, a major rise can be observed for HFCs emissions, which have almost tripled since 1990.
In 2013, the net supply of F-gases to the EU declined for the third consecutive year since 2010, both in terms of metric tonnes and CO 2 -equivalents. The 2013 net supply levels are slightly below the low levels of the ‘economic crisis’ year, 2009. EU production appears to have stabilised slightly above 2008 levels after the sharp decline that was observed from 2007 to 2009. Imports of F-gases grew from 2007 to 2008, experienced a dip in the 'economic crisis' year of 2009 and have been on the decline from 2010 to 2012. However, in 2013 imports rose back to 2011 levels. Exports of F-gases have been on the rise since 2009 when expressed in metric tonnes, however, they are still below 2007 levels. Expressed in CO 2 -equivalents, however, 2013 exports dropped slightly.
Context: Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) covered by the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol comprise hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6 ). These F-gases typically have very long lifetimes in the atmosphere and high global warming potentials (GWPs). F-gases are mostly produced for use in products and equipment in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, electrical equipment, foams, fire protection or as aerosols etc. Emissions take place mainly due to leakage during the use phase or due to failure to fully recover the F-gases at the end of the product/equipment lifetime. Future F-gas emissions are thus largely determined by (i) present day use of F-gases and (ii) measures to prevent leakage and encourage recovery.
Global mean sea level has risen by 19.5 cm from 1901 to 2015, at an average rate of 1.7 mm/year, but with significant decadal variation. The rate of sea level rise since 1993, when satellite measurements have been available, has been higher, at around 3 mm/year. Global mean sea level in 2015 was the highest yearly average over the record and ~70 mm higher than in 1993.
Evidence for a predominant role of anthropogenic climate change in the observed global mean sea level rise and for an acceleration during recent decades has strengthened since the publication of the IPCC AR5.
Most coastal regions in Europe have experienced an increase in absolute sea level and in sea level relative to land, but there is significant regional variation.
Extreme high coastal water levels have increased at most locations along the European coastline. This increase appears to be predominantly due to increases in mean local sea level rather than to changes in storm activity.
Global mean sea level rise during the 21st century will very likely occur at a higher rate than during the period 1971–2010. Process-based models considered in the IPCC AR5 project a rise in sea level over the 21st century that is likely in the range of 0.26–0.54 m for a low emissions scenario (RCP2.6) and 0.45–0.81 m for a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). However, several recent studies suggest substantially higher values. Several national assessments, expert assessments and recent model-based studies have suggested an upper bound for 21st century global mean sea level rise in the range of 1.5–2.0 m.
Available process-based models project that global mean sea level rise by 2300 will be less than 1 m for greenhouse gas concentrations that peak and decline and do not exceed 500 ppm CO 2 -equivalent, but will be in the range of 1 m to more than 3 m for concentrations above 700 ppm CO 2 -equivalent. However, these models are likely to systematically underestimate the sea level contribution from Antarctica, and some recent studies suggest substantially higher rates of sea level rise in the coming centuries.
The rise in sea level relative to land along most European coasts is projected to be similar to the global average, with the exception of the northern Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic Coast, which are experiencing considerable land rise as a consequence of post-glacial rebound.
Projected increases in extreme high coastal water levels are likely to mostly be the result of increases in local relative mean sea level in most locations. However, recent studies suggest that increases in the meteorologically driven surge component can also play a substantial role, in particular along the northern European coastline.
Ocean surface pH has declined from 8.2 to below 8.1 over the industrial era as a result of the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. This decline corresponds to an increase in oceanic acidity of about 30 %.
Ocean acidification in recent decades has been occurring 100 times faster than during past natural events over the last 55 million years.
Observed reductions in surface water pH are nearly identical across the global ocean and throughout continental European seas, except for variations near the coast. The pH reduction in the northernmost European seas, i.e. the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea, is larger than the global average.
Ocean acidification already reaches into the deep ocean, particularly at the high latitudes.
Models consistently project further ocean acidification worldwide. Ocean surface pH is projected to decrease to values between 8.05 and 7.75 by the end of 21st century, depending on future CO2 emissions levels. The largest projected decline represents more than a doubling in acidity.
Ocean acidification is affecting marine organisms and this could alter marine ecosystems.
105 million ha., or 16 % of Europe’s total land area (excluding Russia) were estimated to be affected by water erosion in the 1990s.
Some 42 million ha. of land were estimated to be affected by wind erosion, of which around 1 million ha. were categorised as being severely affected.
A recent new model of soil erosion by water has estimated the surface area affected in the EU‐27 at 130 million ha. Almost 20 % is subjected to soil loss in excess of 10 tonnes/ha./year.
Increased variations in rainfall pattern and intensity will make soils more susceptible to water erosion, with off-site effects of soil erosion increasing.
Increased aridity will make finer-textured soils more vulnerable to wind erosion, especially if accompanied by a decrease in soil organic matter levels.
Reliable quantitative projections for soil erosion are not available.
Soil carbon stocks in the EU-27 are around 75 billion tonnes of carbon; around 50 % of which is located in Ireland, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (because of the large area of peatlands in these countries).
The largest emissions of CO 2 from soils are due to conversion (drainage) of organic soils, and amount to 20–40 tonnes of CO 2 per hectare per year. The most effective option to manage soil carbon in order to mitigate climate change is to preserve existing stocks in soils, and especially the large stocks in peat and other soils with a high content of organic carbon.
On average, soils in Europe are most likely to be accumulating carbon. Soils under grassland and forests are a carbon sink (estimated up to 80 million tonnes of carbon per year) whereas soils under arable land are a smaller carbon source (estimated from 10–40 million tonnes of carbon per year).
The effects of climate change on soil organic carbon and soil respiration are complex, and depend on distinct climatic and biotic drivers. However, they lack rigorous supporting datasets.
Climate change is expected to have an impact on soil carbon in the long term, but changes in the short term will more likely be driven by land management practices and land use change
All European seas have warmed considerably since 1870, and the warming has been particularly rapid since the late 1970s. The multi-decadal rate of sea surface temperature rise during the satellite era (since 1979) has been between 0.21 °C per decade in the North Atlantic and 0.40 °C per decade in the Baltic Sea.
Globally averaged sea surface temperature is projected to continue to increase, although more slowly than atmospheric temperature.
Observed climate change is having significant impacts on the distribution of European flora and fauna, with distribution changes of several hundred kilometres projected over the 21st century. These impacts include northwards and uphill range shifts, as well as local and regional extinctions of species.
The migration of many species is lagging behind the changes in climate owing to intrinsic limitations, habitat use and fragmentation, and other obstacles, suggesting that they are unable to keep pace with the speed of climate change. Observed and modelled differences between actual and required migration rates may lead to a progressive decline in European biodiversity.
Climate change is likely to exacerbate the problem of invasive species in Europe. As climatic conditions change, some locations may become more favourable to previously harmless alien species, which then become invasive and have negative impacts on their new environments.
Climate change is affecting the interaction of species that depend on each other for food or other reasons. It can disrupt established interactions but also generate novel ones.
Available studies suggest that run-off in near-natural rivers during the period 1963–2000 increased in western and northern Europe, in particular in winter, and decreased in southern and parts of eastern Europe, in particular in summer. However, comprehensive observation data on river flows are not available across Europe.
Long-term trends in river flows due to climate change are difficult to detect because of substantial interannual and decadal variability, as well as modifications to natural water flows arising from water abstractions, morphological changes (such as man-made reservoirs) and land-use changes.
Climate change is projected to result in significant changes in the seasonality of river flows across Europe. Summer flows are projected to decrease in most of Europe, including in regions where annual flows are projected to increase. Where precipitation shifts from snow to rain, spring and summer peak flow will shift to earlier in the season.
The vast majority of glaciers in the European glacial regions are in retreat. Glaciers in the European Alps have lost approximately half of their volume since 1900, with clear acceleration since the 1980s.
Glacier retreat is expected to continue in the future. It has been estimated that the volume of European glaciers will decline between 22 and 84 % compared with the current situation by 2100 under a moderate greenhouse gas forcing scenario, and between 38 and 89 % under a high forcing scenario.
Glacier retreat contributed to global sea level rise by about 0.8 mm per year in 2003–2009. It also affects freshwater supply and run-off regimes, river navigation, irrigation and power generation. Furthermore, it may cause natural hazards and damage to infrastructure.
At the end of 2011, almost all European countries were on track towards their Kyoto targets for 2008–2012. The EU‑15 is on track towards this 8 % reduction target, compared to base-year levels under the Kyoto Protocol.
Projections from EU Member States indicate that their emissions outside the EU ETS will be lower than their national targets set under the Climate and Energy Package. Total EU emissions are projected to fall slightly until 2020. With the current set of national domestic measures in place, Member States are expected to reach a level in 2020 which is 19 % below 1990 levels and close to the 20 % reduction target.
Climate change is having a detectable effect on bird populations at a European scale, including both negative and positive effects. The number of bird species whose populations are observed to be negatively impacted by climatic change is three times larger than those observed to be positively affected by climate warming in this set of widespread European land birds. The Climatic Impact Indicator, which illustrates the impact of climate change on bird populations, has increased strongly in the past twenty years, coinciding with a period of rapid climatic warming in Europe. Potential links between changes in bird populations and ecosystem functioning and resilience are not well understood.
Water temperatures in major European rivers have increased by 1–3 °C over the last century. Several time series show increasing lake and river temperatures all over Europe since the early 1900s.
Lake and river surface water temperatures are projected to increase further with projected increases in air temperature.
Increased water temperature can result in marked changes in species composition and functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
The transmission cycles of vector-borne diseases are sensitive to climatic factors, but disease risks are also affected by factors such as land use, vector control, human behaviour, population movements and public health capacities.
Climate change is regarded as the principal factor behind the observed move of the tick species Ixodes ricinus — the vector of Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis in Europe — to higher latitudes and altitudes. Climate change is projected to lead to further northwards and upwards shifts in the distribution of Ixodes ricinus.
It is generally suspected that climate change has played (and will continue to play) a role in the expansion of other disease vectors, notably the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which can disseminate several diseases including dengue, chikungunya and Zika, and Phlebotomus species of sandflies, which transmit leishmaniasis.
The unprecedented upsurge in the number of human West Nile fever infections in the summer of 2010 in south-eastern Europe was preceded by extreme hot spells in this region. High temperature anomalies in July were identified as contributing factors to the recurrent outbreaks in the subsequent years.
The flowering of several perennial and annual crops has advanced by about two days per decade during the last 50 years.
Changes in crop phenology are affecting crop production and the relative performance of different crop species and varieties. The shortening of the grain-filling phase of cereals and oilseed crops can be particularly detrimental to yield.
Shortening of the growth phases of many crops is expected to continue, but this may be altered by selecting other crop cultivars and changing planting dates, which in some cases can lead to longer growth periods.
Drought has been a recurrent feature of the European climate. From 2006–2010, on average 15 % of the EU territory and 17 % of the EU population have been affected by meteorological droughts each year.
The severity and frequency of meteorological and hydrological droughts have increased in parts of Europe, in particular in south-western and central Europe.
Available studies project large increases in the frequency, duration and severity of meteorological and hydrological droughts in most of Europe over the 21st century, except for northern European regions. The greatest increase in drought conditions is projected for southern Europe, where it would increase competition between different water users, such as agriculture, industry, tourism and households.
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/climate/indicators or scan the QR code.
PDF generated on 24 Feb 2017, 06:21 PM
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