Indicator Fact Sheet

Emission trends of sulphur dioxide SO2

Indicator Fact Sheet
Prod-ID: IND-169-en
  Also known as: APE 001
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

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This page was archived on 31 Jul 2015 with reason: No more updates will be done

Assessment made on  01 Dec 2005

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Pressure


Indicator codes
  • APE 001

Policy issue:  Are we reaching emission targets for acidifying substances?

Key assessment

EEA-32 emissions of SO2 have decreased by 66% between 1990 and 2005. Substantial emission reductions have been made across a number of sectors including: road transport (84% reduction between 1990 and 2005), "other energy" (74%), "industry energy" (68%) and "energy industries" (65% between 1990 and 2005).

The "energy industries" sector (encompassing activities such as power and heat generation) is responsible for the largest reduction (in absolute terms) of emissions, contributing more than 60% of the total reduction in SO2 emissions reported by countries. Nevertheless, despite this significant reduction, this single sector remains the most significant source of SO2 in the EEA-32 region. Across Europe there is also an increasing awareness of the contribution made to SO2 pollutant emissions by national and international ship traffic (a more detailed discussion of this issue is contained in the TERM indicator fact sheet TERM03 - Transport emissions of air pollutants).

A combination of measures has led to the reductions in SO2 emissions. This includes fuelswitching from high-sulphur solid (e.g. coal) and liquid (e.g. heavy fuel oil) fuels to low sulphur fuels (such as natural gas) for power and heat production purposes within the "energy industries", industry and domestic sectors, improvements in energy efficiency and the installation of flue gas desulphurisation equipment in new and existing industrial facilities. The implementation of several directives within the EU limiting the sulphur content of fuel quality has also contributed to the decrease.

The newer Member States of the European Union have in a number of cases also undergone significant economic structural changes since the early 1990s which has led to a general decline in certain activities which previously contributed significantly to high levels of sulphur emissions e.g. heavy industry and the closure of older inefficient power plants.

Within the EEA-32 group of countries, all have reported lower emissions in 2005 compared to 1990 except Greece (+9%), Cyprus (+16%) and Turkey (75%).


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