Air quality in Europe - 2017 report

Publication Created 25 Aug 2017 Published 11 Oct 2017
Topics: ,
Note: new versions are available!
Cover Image
"Air quality in Europe — 2017 report" presents an updated analysis of air quality and its impacts, based on official data from more than 2 500 monitoring stations across Europe in 2015.
Downloading: PDF document icon Air Quality 2017 TH-AL-17-016-EN-N - page 18 corrected.pdf — PDF document, 15.40 MB (16148860 bytes)
Publication Created 25 Aug 2017 Published 11 Oct 2017
Topics: ,
EEA Report No 13/2017
"Air quality in Europe — 2017 report" presents an updated analysis of air quality and its impacts, based on official data from more than 2 500 monitoring stations across Europe in 2015.


Additional Files

Related content

Data references

Figures used

News and articles

Related briefings

Related indicators

Exposure of Europe's ecosystems to acidification, eutrophication and ozone In the EU-28, critical loads for acidification were exceeded in 7 % of the ecosystem area in 2010, down from 43 % in 1980. The figure also decreased to 7 % of the ecosystem area across all EEA member countries. There are still some areas where the interim objective for reducing acidification, as defined in the EU's National Emission Ceilings Directive, has not been met.  The EU-28 ecosystem area in which the critical loads for eutrophication were exceeded peaked at 84 % in 1990 and decreased to 63 % in 2010 (55 % in the EEA member countries). The area in exceedance is projected to further decrease to 54 % in 2020 for the EU-28 (48 % in the EEA member countries), assuming current legislation is implemented. The magnitude of the exceedances is also projected to decline considerably in most areas, except for a few 'hot spot' areas in western France and the border areas between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in northern Italy. Looking ahead, only 4 % of the EU-28 ecosystem area (3 % in EEA member countries) is projected to exceed acidification critical loads in 2020 if current legislation is fully implemented. The eutrophication reduction target set in the updated EU air pollution strategy proposed by the European Commission in late 2013, will be met by 2030 if it is assumed that all maximum technically feasible reduction measures are implemented, but it will not be met by current legislation. For ozone, most of Europe's vegetation and agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels that exceed the long term objective specified in the EU's Air Quality Directive. A significant fraction is also exposed to levels above the target value threshold defined in the directive. The effect-related concentrations show large year-to-year variations. Over the period 1996-2014, exposure increased before 2006, after which it decreased. During the past six years, the fractions of agricultural crops above the target value were the lowest since 1996. In 2014, the fraction decreased to 18 %, the minimum in the whole series; and mapping results show that the highest values have also decreased. During the past six years, around two-thirds of the forest area was exposed to ozone concentrations above the critical level set by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for the protection of forests. 
Emissions of the main air pollutants in Europe Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants decreased significantly in most EEA member countries between 1990 and 2015: emissions of nitrogen oxides decreased by 52 % (56 % in the EU-28); emissions of sulphur oxides decreased by 83 % (89 % in the EU-28); emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased by 59 % (61 % in the EU-28); emissions of ammonia decreased by 18 % (23 % in the EU-28); emissions of fine particulate matter decreased by 28 % (26 % in the EU-28) from 2000. The EU-28 met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, ammonia and non-methane volatile organic compounds below legally binding targets, as specified by the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). Some EU Member States reported emissions that were above their NECD emission ceilings: six countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg) exceeded emission ceilings for nitrogen oxides , six (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Spain and Sweden) exceeded emission ceilings for ammonia  and five (Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland and Luxembourg) exceeded emission ceilings for non-methane volatile organic compounds. There are no emission ceilings for primary fine particulate matter . Emission ceilings were set for 2010 for two additional EEA member countries (Norway and Switzerland) in the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Norway reported emissions above their ammonia  ceilings . Emission reduction commitments for 2020 have been set under the revised Gothenburg Protocol . The EU-28 as a whole is on track to meet reduction commitments .
Global and European temperature 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.

Related publications

See also

Temporal coverage

Document Actions
Filed under:
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us