Air pollution - Drivers and pressures (Spain)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated) expired
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SOER Common environmental theme from Spain
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015

Socio-economic and industrial development

Spain's population has risen rapidly in recent years to reach a total of 46,745,807 inhabitants in 2009. Over the period 2000-2009, the population increased by 15.4 %. On the other hand, there has been a country's sustained GDP growth (EUR 1,053,914 million in 2009, though the rate growth has slowed since 2006. Between 1995 and 2009 alone, Spain's net GDP rose by 135.7 % (current prices). Both exert pressure on air quality.

Primary energy consumption increased continually until 2007. However, in 2008 it dropped to 137,836 Ktoe, 3.6 % below the 2007 level and in 2009 was 130,508 ktoe, with a decline of 8.3% over 2008,

Use of coal, oil and nuclear power to generate electricity all fell, while that of natural gas rose. Renewable energy use remained stable at around 20 %.

Since 1990, internal passenger traffic has increased by 94.4 %. Although growth rates have slowed in recent years, 2008 was the first year to show a slight drop in the previous 12-month period. As regards inter-urban freight traffic, the volume grew over the same period by 86.5 %, though it fell by 7.7 % in the last year recorded.

The modal split of transport in 2008 underlines the continuing high demand for road transport in Spain. This mode accounts for almost 90 % of passenger transport and 86 % of freight transport. Another noteworthy change was that rail accounted for a larger share of passenger transport than air transport.

Transport modal split 2008


Emissions of air pollutants

In 2008, GHG emissions totalled 405 740 kt of CO2-eq, an amount equal to a 40 % increase on the Kyoto Protocol base-year figure (289,773 kt of CO2-eq). However, emissions in 2008 were 7.5 % below the level in 2007. The progress for 2009 envisages a further reduction of emissions with a final increase of only 28.5 % from the Kyoto base year.

The pollutant split reveals that in 2008, CO2 accounted for 83.2 % of total emissions. It was followed in terms of volume by CH4 with 8.9 % and N2O with 6.2 %. Fluorinated gases contributed just 1.7 % of the total.

The breakdown by sector shows that energy processing (including transport) generated the majority of these emissions, with the next-biggest producers being agriculture, industrial processes, waste treatment and disposal, and solvent use.

GHG emission


Over the period 1990–2008, aggregate emissions of acidifying and eutrophying substances fell by 44.7 %. The decrease was particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2008, when emissions plummeted by 29.1 %. For their part, aggregate tropospheric ozone precursor gas emissions dropped by 40.7 % over the same period, with the principal decrease occurring in 2008 (34.0 %).

Acidifying and Eutrophying


Analysis by gas type over the same period reveals notable reductions in emissions of SO2 (75.6 %), NMVOCs (60.3 %), CO (49.0 %) and NOx (10.3 %). Only NH3 and CH4 emissions increased (11.4 % and 33.5 %, respectively).

Emissions Acidifying and Eutrophying


Over the period 2000–2008, particulate matter emissions fell by 6.3 % for PM10 and by 1.4 % for PM2.5. This was due largely to the major reductions in the final year (8.7 % for PM10 and 6.8 % for PM2.5).

Particulate matter emissions
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