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Indicator Assessment

Transport emissions of air pollutants

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-112-en
  Also known as: TERM 003
Published 05 Jul 2010 Last modified 11 May 2021
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Transport emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors and particulates decreased by 36 %, 45 % and 33 %, respectively, between 1990 and 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries. This was mostly a result of emission reductions realised in road transport, which in turn was due to the increased use of catalytic converters, reduced sulphur concentrations in fuels and fleet renewal. However, further reductions of all substances will be required from all sectors in order to achieve the various environmental targets set for 2010. Unlike the steady decline of emissions from the 15 old EU Member States and 4 EFTA countries, the emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors and particulates decreased in the 12 new EU Member States by 25 %, 19 % and 21 % between 1990 and 1993 but then remained largely stable until 1998 before decreasing further in 1999-2005 to 64 %, 64 % and 70 % of the 1990 levels respectively. The initial sharp decline in the early 1990s was mainly due to the economic recession that impacted strongly on traffic volumes. The stabilisation of emissions, despite rising transport volumes in the second half of the 1990s, was a result of fleet renewal. Emissions from one candidate country (Turkey) show a rising trend (with fluctuations) in the same period, with emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors and particulates having risen to 158 %, 194 % and 163 % of the respective 1990 values by 2005.

TERM03 Transport emissions of air pollutants

Note: The transport emissions data include all of 'road transport' and 'other transport/mobile sources', less the 'memo' items, which include international aviation (LTO (Landing and Take Off) and cruise) and international marine (international sea traffic - bunkers)

Data source:

EEA aggregated and gap-filled air emission dataset, based on 2007 officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE/EMEP Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution.

  • Acidifying substances

Emissions of acidifying substances from transport decreased by 35.8 % between 1990 and 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries. The introduction of both catalytic converters and reduced sulphur in fuels have contributed substantially to this reduction, offsetting the pressure from increased road traffic in the same period.  Decreases between 1990 and 2005 in the different country groupings were: 39 % in EU27, 40 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 36 % in the 12 new EU Member States and 38 % in the 4 EFTA countries; only in the candidate country Turkey emissions increased by 58 %. The proportion of emissions emitted from the different country groupings in 2005 was: 73 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 16 % in 12 new EU Member States, 8 % in the candidate country Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.
In the transport sector, NOx is the most important pollutant contributing to the formation of acidifying substances, comprising 88 % of total transport-related acidifying emissions in the 32 EEA member countries. Road transport contributed 14 % to the total emissions (i.e. from all sectors) of acidifying substances in 2005 for the 32 EEA member countries (16 % EU-15, 9 % EU 12, 15 % CC-1 and 16 % EFTA-4).

Further reductions of emissions of acidifying pollutants are needed to reach the 2010 targets of the National Emission Ceilings Directive (Targets: -55 % for EU-25, -56 % for EU-15 and -51 % for EU-10).

  • Ozone precursors

Emissions of ozone precursors from transport decreased by 45 % between 1990 and 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries. Reductions have occurred mainly because of increased penetration catalytic converters for road vehicles as a result of tightening of EU regulations on new vehicle emissions limits. Decreases were slightly larger in the 15 old EU Member States (52 %), less in the 12 new EU Member States (36 %) and larger in the 4 EFTA countries (52 %); only in the candidate country Turkey emissions were increasing by 94 %. The proportion of emissions emitted from the different country groupings in 2005 was: 71 % in the 15 old EU Member States, 15 % in the 12 new EU Member States, 11 % in the candidate country Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.

Emissions of NOx (62 %) and of NMVOC (23 %) were the most significant pollutants contributing to the formation of tropospheric ozone in 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries. Road transport is the dominant source of ozone precursors and contributed 32 % of total ozone precursor emissions in 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries (33 % EU15, 27 % EU12, 35 % CC-1 and 24 % EFTA-4).

Total ozone precursor emissions are declining in most countries and in the 32 EEA member countries as a whole. They decreased by 38 % in the 32 EEA member countries between 1990 and 2005. Road transport has contributed most strongly to this reduction, as its emissions of ozone precursors decreased by 52 % over the same period, with emissions from other transport decreasing by 5 %.  The contribution of transport as a whole (road and other) to the total dropped from 49 % in 1990 to 43 % in 2005.
International transport is a further significant source of ozone precursors such as NOx (see Box 3 -  Emissions of acidifying substances from international ship traffic). However, this is not included in the EMEP totals reported above.

Emission reductions so far have not led to fewer exceedances of critical levels (ecosystems) or concentration thresholds (human health). Substantial further reductions of emissions of ozone precursor pollutants from all sectors are required to achieve the Gothenburg Protocol and the National Emission Ceilings Directive 2010 targets. Meeting the NEC targets requires a reduction of 49 % of emissions of ozone precursors from 1990 levels by 2010 for the 25 EU Member States (-53 % for the 15 old EU Member States and -26 % for the 10 old EU Member States).
According to recent studies by BMT and Entec UK for the European Commission (European Commission, 2000b and European Commission, 2003), SO2 and NOx from shipping are expected to increase by 2010. This means an associated increase in ozone precursor emissions.

  • Particulate matter

Emissions of particulate matter from the transport sector decreased by 33 % between 1990 and 2005 in the 32 EEA member countries (and 36 % in the 27 EU Member States).  The 32 EEA member countries' emissions of total primary PM10 and secondary PM10 precursors were reduced by 45 % over the same period. The reduction from transport has been achieved largely as a result of the continued penetration of catalytic converters and other improvements to vehicle technology, reducing the emissions of secondary particulate precursors. Decreases were similar in the 15 old EU Member States, the 12 new EU Member States and the 4 EFTA countries (37 %, 30 % and 37 % respectively); only in candidate country Turkey emissions were increasing by 63 %. The proportion of emissions emitted from the different country groupings in 2005 was: 73 % in 15 old EU Member States, 15 % in the 12 new EU Member States, 8 % in the candidate country Turkey and 3 % in the 4 EFTA countries.

Emission of NOx (87 %) was the most significant pollutant contributing to atmospheric PM10 in 2005. Road transport is the dominant source of emissions of fine particulates, contributing 22 % to the the 32 EEA member countries' total emission of fine particulates. However, emissions from road transport decreased by 38 % between 1990 and 2005, contributing significantly to the overall reduction of particulate emissions. Emissions from sources other than road transport decreased by only 14 % over the same period.

Emissions of primary PM10 and secondary PM10 precursors are expected to decrease significantly between 2005 and 2010, as improved vehicle engine technologies are adopted and stationary fuel combustion emissions are controlled through abatement or use of low sulphur fuels such as natural gas. Despite this, it is expected that in the near future in the majority of the urban areas over the territory of the 15 old EU Member States, PM10 concentrations will still be well above the limit values. Substantial further reductions in all sectors are needed to reach the limit values set in the EU first Daughter Directive to the Framework Directive on Ambient Air Quality. Additional measures to reduce the sulphur content of diesel and petrol fuels have been decided upon by the European Commission, which included the availability of the sulphur-free (<10 ppm sulphur or 'zero sulphur') fuel from 2005 in Member States, and complete transition to sulphur-free fuel by 2009. These measures should reduce emissions of NOx and SOx, as well as primary PM10, from road vehicles in the future.

As mentioned under 'ozone precursors', emissions of SO2 and NOx from shipping in European waters are expected to increase by 2010 with an associated increase in primary and secondary PM10 precursors.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator is based on the emission trend assessment of CO, CH4, NH3, NOx, NMVOCs, SOx and primary particulates. These substances are grouped into acidifying substances (NOx, SOx and NH3), particulates (primary: PM10, PM2.5, secondary: NOx, SOx and NH3) and ozone precursors (CH4, CO, NMVOC and NOx). The assessment is made for the total transport sector.

Units

The conversion factors used are the following:

  • Acidifying substances: NH3: 0.0588, NOx: 0.0217; SOx: 0.0313
  • Ozone precursors: CH4: 0.0140, CO: 0.1100, NMVOC: 1, NOx: 1.2200
  • Particulate matter: NH3: 0.6400, NOx: 0.8800, PM10: 1, SOx: 0.5400

 

Policy context and targets

Context description

No specific emission reduction target or objective exists for transport-related emissions of acidifying substances, ozone precursors or particulates. However, emission ceiling targets for total NOx, SOx, NMVOC and NH3 emissions are specified in both the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) and the Gothenburg protocol under the United Nations Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (UNECE 1999). Following the Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (2008/50/EC), a number of limit values (e.g. hourly limit values) have been set for the atmospheric concentrations of main pollutants, including SOx, NOx, air borne particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), lead, CO, benzene and ozone. Limits have been set at levels that should prevent or reduce harmful effects on health and ecosystems. Although aiming at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions the EU climate and energy package will also influence the emissions of air pollutants from the transport sector. In some countries national standards also apply.

Targets

Both the NECD and Gothenburg protocol set reductions targets for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and non-methane volatile organic compounds and ammonia for the 32 EEA member countries. There are substantial differences in emission ceilings, and hence emission reduction percentages for different countries, due to the different sensitivities of the affected ecosystems and technical feasibility for reductions.

Related policy documents

  • 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone
    Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone, amended on 4 May 2012.
  • Council Directive 96/61/EC (IPPC)
    Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). Official Journal L 257.
  • Directive 98/70/EC, quality of petrol and diesel fuels
    Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC
  • Directive 2001/80/EC, large combustion plants
    Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants
  • Directive 2001/81/EC, national emission ceilings
    Directive 2001/81/EC, on nation al emissions ceilings (NECD) for certain atmospheric pollutants. Emission reduction targets for the new EU10 Member States have been specified in the Treaty of Accession to the European Union 2003  [The Treaty of Accession 2003 of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. AA2003/ACT/Annex II/en 2072] in order that they can comply with the NECD.
 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Data sources: For CH4 data from the country reports submitted in 2010 under the EU Monitoring Mechanism and to UNFCCC has been used. For air pollutants officially reported data to EMEP/LRTAP by 07 May 2010 has been used.

Methodology for gap filling

Where a complete time series of emissions data has not been reported, data has been gap-filled according to EEA ETC/ACC methodologies. Details of the gap-filling procedure for the air pollutant data set are described in the European Union emission inventory report 1990–2008 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) (EEA Technical Report No 7/2010).

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

For greenhouse gases the results of the tier 1 level uncertainty estimate suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level were between 4.8 % and 10.2 % for total EU-15 GHG emissions in 2008. Transport related GHG emissions are estimated to have an uncertainty of 6 % in 2008 (see EEA, 2010). For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps. A quantification of uncertainty in the European Union LRTAP emission inventory requires the provision of detailed underpinning information on emission uncertainties from Member States. An evaluation of uncertainty at the EuropeanUnion level (including all EU-27 Member States) has not been performed, because insufficient information has been reported by Member States.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 003
EEA Contact Info info@eea.europa.eu

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Filed under: transport
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