Explanation of Key Trends

Last updated on 24 Jan 2013 17:05 by Kevin Hausmann

This chapter features tabular and graphical representations of emissions and emission trends for CO, NMVOC, NOx, SO2, NH3, TSP, PM2.5 and PM10. The covered time scale stretches from 1990 to the latest reporting year (the previous but one year) for data and further back for general explanation. Emission are listed as totals here and detailed by NFR source category in the pollutant-specific subsections, these also include summaries of the main drivers for the pollutant in question. The subsections also feature details on the inventory preparation process for the individual pollutants and source categories, including the tier of the methods applied and data characterisation.

Total emission trends

Between the 1950s and 1970s, air pollution in both parts of Germany was considerably higher than today, mainly due to the "traditional" pollutants sulphur dioxide, airborne particulates and to some extend nitrogen oxides. The reduction in the concentration of pollutants has been forced by regulations that induced technological advancements in stationary combustion plants and vehicles and caused the gradual changeover from solid fuels like coal and lignite to oil and gas, the increased use of low-sulphur heating oil, and, later, the desulphurisation of flue gases in large combustion plants (LCP).

The graph below shows total emission trends for the most important pollutants. The values are displayed as decrease of emission in percent compared to a base year, set to 1995 for PM2.5 and PM10 and 1990 for all other pollutants.

Because of the fact that air pollution is not being kept within national borders, this has been an issue on the European Union's agenda for a long time, resulting in increasingly strict regulations for air quality management, as new knowledge and concepts were taken into consideration. The framework for these regulations is the Council "Framework" Directive 96/62/EC of 27 September 1996 on ambient air quality assessment and management, the objectives and principles of which are set out in concrete terms in so-called daughter directives. The framework directive and the first two daughter directives were adopted in German law through the 22nd Federal Immission Control Ordinance (22nd BImSchV). The third daughter directive was subsequently adopted through the 33rd Federal Immission Control Ordinance (33rd BImSchV), whilst the fourth daughter directive is currently passing through the legislative process.
The limit values specified in the daughter directives are based on the work of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and, in general, are considerably lower than the limits specified in previous regulations.

Where particle emissions are considered, new limit values for fine dust (PM10) have replaced the previous limit values for total suspended particulate matter (TSP).

Another new feature compared to the previous EC directives is that the first daughter directive makes it compulsory to make up-to-date information on ambient air quality and air pollution situation routinely available to the public.

In addition to the air quality directives, the European Commission has also issued Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings (NEC) for certain atmospheric pollutants, restricting maximum national emission levels for the year 2010. This directive covers sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), and volatile organic compounds (VOC), and was adopted into German law through the 33rd BImschV. Recently work is in progress to agree on further reduction commitments until 2020 including also national emission ceilings for all types of particle emissions.

Translating this historic development, these regulations and the figure above into numbers leads to trends visible in the following table. It shows total emission values for the pollutants referred to. All numbers are given in giga-grams, i.e. kilotons.

Pollutant 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
CO 12,368 10,109 8,723 7,928 7,011 6,556 6,080 5,921 5,457 5,085
NMVOC 3,127 2,676 2,459 2,313 1,891 1,805 1,736 1,712 1,674 1,533
NOX 2,884 2,638 2,495 2,388 2,229 2,176 2,106 2,037 2,009 1,983
SO2 5,292 3,915 3,193 2,847 2,383 1,718 1,455 1,218 981 803
NH3 692 622 613 615 589 599 606 598 604 602
TSP 1,852 1,038 730 572 459 373 360 372 358 356
PM10 275 263 268 256 253
PM2.5 173 164 164 155 151
Pollutant 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
CO 4,804 4,598 4,308 4,110 3,872 3,651 3,571 3,473 3,387 3,002
NMVOC 1,390 1,289 1,228 1,162 1,174 1,143 1,131 1,069 1,015 929
NOX 1,925 1,848 1,768 1,712 1,648 1,576 1,562 1,489 1,415 1,318
SO2 653 643 590 573 547 517 520 497 490 435
NH3 602 608 596 590 582 573 569 567 568 576
TSP 336 327 315 305 300 289 288 281 274 260
PM10 240 234 225 218 214 207 206 201 195 187
PM2.5 143 140 134 130 126 121 119 114 110 106
Pollutant 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
CO 3,322
NMVOC 1,051
NOX 1,319
SO2 449
NH3 548
TSP 266
PM10 193
PM2.5 111

In addition, information and data on emissions of persistent organic pollutants (POP) and heavy metals are also available.

Detailed Emission Trends

Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOC)
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Ammonia (NH3)
Total suspended particulate matter (TSP)
Fine Particulate Matter (PM10)
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

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