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EEA Report No 4/2005
European environment outlook
ISSN 1725-9177EEA Report No 4/2005
European environment outlookCover design: EEA
Layout: EEA
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The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the European
Commission or other institutions of the European Communities. Neither the European Environment
Agency nor any person or company acting on behalf of the Agency is responsible for the use that
may be made of the information contained in this report.
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Europa server (http://europa.eu.int).
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2005
ISBN 92-9167-769-8
ISSN 1725-9177
© EEA, Copenhagen 2005
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Enquiries: www.eea.eu.int/enquiriesContents
Contents
Acknowledgements .................................................................................................... 4
Foreword .................................................................................................................... 5
Executive summary 6
1. Looking ahead — setting the scene ........................................................................8
1.1 Looking ahead: what for? ................................................................................... 8
1.2 The European environment outlook ..................................................................... 8
2. Europe's environment — current concerns ........................................................... 11
2.1 Outstanding issues .......................................................................................... 11
2.2 What drives changes in Europe's environment? ................................................... 14
2.3 The policy dimension ....................................................................................... 17
3. Societal drivers and pressures — a European baseline scenario ...........................20
3.1 The socio-economic context ............................................................................. 20
3.2 Demography .................................................................................................. 21
3.3 Macro-economy .............................................................................................. 22
3.4 Technological developments 22
3.5 Sectoral developments .................................................................................... 23
3.6 Consumption patterns ..................................................................................... 24
3.7 Energy and transport ...................................................................................... 25
3.8 Agriculture ..................................................................................................... 28
3.9 Waste and material flows ................................................................................. 31
4. Changes in Europe's environment ........................................................................ 36
4.1 Spotlight: GHG emissions and climate change .................................................... 36
4.2 Spotlight: air quality ....................................................................................... 45
4.3 Spotlight: water stress 50
4.4 ater quality ................................................................................... 58
5. Key signals and early warnings ........................................................................... 62
6. Uncertainties and information gaps ..................................................................... 67
Footnotes ................................................................................................................. 68
Annex 1 Country groupings/acronyms and abbreviations ........................................74
Annex 2 Concise description of the modelling tools used .........................................76
Annex 3 References ................................................................................................. 82
Annex 4 Glossary on environment outlooks ....................................................................87
3European environment outlookAcknowledgements
Acknowledgements
The authors of this report, Stéphane Isoard and Advisory Group for this European environment
Thomas Henrichs, thank Teresa Ribeiro and Jock outlook report:
Martin for their guidance and support. We also
very much appreciate the assistance and feed-back • Timothy Carter (Research Programme for Global
from our colleagues at the European Environment Change, Finnish Environment Institute);
Agency, particularly Ybele Hoogeveen, André Jol, • Gerold Bödeker (Food and Agriculture
Pawel Kazmierczyk, Lars Mortensen, Linda Neale, Organization of the UN (FAO));
Jan-Erik Petersen, Louise Rickard, David Stanners, • Keith Weatherhead (Cranfield University);
Niels Thyssen, Hans Vos and Tobias Wiesenthal. • Annegrete Bruvoll (Statistics Norway, Waste and
material flows);
We thankfully acknowledge the valuable • Kenneth Ruffing (Deputy Director, Environment
contributions to this report from the following Directorate, Organisation for Economic
persons: Co-operation and Development (OECD));
• Ferenc Toth (International Atomic Energy
• Mette Skovgaard, Stephan Moll and Rikke Agency (IAEA));
Carlsen from the European Topic Centre on • Antonio Soria (Institute for Prospective
Waste and Material Flows as well as Frits Møller Technological Studies (IPTS), European
Andersen and Helge Larsen from Risø National Commission — Joint Research Centre);
Laboratory; • Tomasz Zylicz (Economics Department, Warsaw
• Peter Kristensen, Concha Lallana, Benoît University and EEA Scientific Committee).
Fribourg-Blanc and Steve Nixon from the
European Topic Centre on Water; Additionally, we are grateful to Jelle Bruinsma at the
• Jelle Van Minnen, Willemijn Tuinstra, Nikos Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)
Kouvaritakis, Leonidas Mantzos, Zbigniew and Christian Pallière at the European Fertilizer
Klimont and Peter Taylor from the European Manufacturers Association (EFMA) for supporting
Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change; this report in data issues. Finally, we thank Peter
• Peter Witzke, Wofgang Britz and Andrea Zintl at Saunders for editing assistance.
EuroCARE GBmv;
• Martina Flörke and Joseph Alcamo at the Center Many experts have been involved in reviewing the
for Environmental Systems Research of the methodological approach and preliminary results of
University of Kassel; this outlook (for example, in dedicated workshops
• Antonio Soria, Peter Ruß, Lazslo Zsabo on waste and material flows and energy and climate
and Panayotis Christidis at the Institute for change at the European Environment Agency), and
Prospective Technological Studies of the it would be tedious to acknowledge each of them
European Commission — Joint Research Centre. individually here. Nevertheless, we would like to
thank them for their inputs and reflections, which in
Also, we are grateful for the critical support and many cases inspired us and changed the course of
constructive advice from the members of the events.
4 European environment outlookForeword
Foreword
Protecting our environment is a key element in will bring, we can, nevertheless, give a perspective
ensuring sustainable livelihoods for today’s and of how current trends may unfold — based on
future generations. our understanding of how environmental systems
function and how they are shaped by socio-
Indeed, the most recent Eurobarometer surveys economic and technological developments.
show that as Europeans we regard the protection of
our environment to be one of the six key priorities This European environment outlook report
for the European Union. Issues of particular concern addresses a range of environmental concerns and
are water and air pollution, man-made disasters, their common driving forces in an integrated way,
and climate change. In addition, new challenges and turns the spotlight on some of the more pressing
arising from diffuse sources of pollution, changing issues. The report highlights the prospects for
consumption patterns, and the possibility of sudden Europe’s environment, exploring the consequences
extreme environmental changes all need to be of our current expectations regarding socio-
addressed. economic developments and, in some instances,
points towards options for a more sustainable
Europe is responding to these concerns through the future.
policy arena. The sustainable development strategy,
Lisbon agenda, and sixth environment action With this EEA report dedicated solely to outlooks,
programme are all important in the balance between we hope to inform the important discussions on how
economic growth, a high quality of life and a healthy we can shape our common environmental future for
environment. And to arrive at further informed the better.
strategic decisions, we must anticipate what lies
ahead, and grasp ongoing, emerging and latent
developments.
Decision-makers, stakeholders and the public look
to us, the EEA, to provide information on the future
prospects of the state of Europe’s environment. Prof. Jacqueline McGlade
Whilst we cannot predict what changes the future EEA Executive Director
5European environment outlookExecutive summary
Executive summary
The European environment outlook report of expected to be exceeded. Projections indicate that,
2005 assesses the environmental consequences with existing domestic policies and measures alone,
of key socio-economic developments in Europe, emissions are likely to fall short of the EU target of a
particularly with regard to climate change, air reduction of an average of 1 % per year up to 2020.
quality, water stress and water quality. The projected Also, unless deep emission reductions are achieved
developments are discussed in the light of Europe's globally and in Europe, the overarching EU policy
current policy targets as adopted in the European target of limiting increases in the global mean
Union's sustainable development strategy and the temperature to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels is
sixth environment action programme. A number of expected to be exceeded in the second half of this
key signals and headline messages emerge from this century. This is likely to result in further changes in
assessment: precipitation, rising sea levels and a change in the
magnitude and frequency of some extreme weather
Changes in Europe's demographic patterns — events. Even sudden extreme changes, such as the
ageing societies, rural depopulation and growing collapse of the 'Gulf Stream' or the Arctic ecosystem,
numbers of households — are expected to increase are not deemed entirely implausible.
some environmental pressures. The total population
of Europe is expected to remain fairly stable over Air pollution and its impacts on health and
the next 30 years, but projections show a changing ecosystems are expected to decline significantly.
demographic structure with an increase in average On the basis of existing policies and measures,
age (with more than 20 % being more than 65 year all emissions of land-based air pollutants (except
old in 2030, compared with 15 % today). At the ammonia) are expected to decline significantly (by
same time, the total number of households is more than 35 %) up to 2030. The EU as a whole is
expected to grow by more than 20 %. In general, therefore expected to comply with the 2010 targets
more households mean more energy consumption of the national emission ceilings directive. However,
and — until recently — water use, and more waste while a number of Member States are well below
generation, resulting in more environmental their binding upper national emission ceilings,
pressures. others are not on track. As air quality in Europe is
expected to improve significantly, impacts on human
The short-term European greenhouse gas emission health and ecosystems may diminish substantially,
targets are expected to be met, if all additional although large differences across Europe are
policies and measures planned are implemented. expected to prevail. In particular, negative impacts
With existing domestic policies and measures alone in highly populated areas of the EU are expected to
(as of mid-2004), emissions in the EU by 2008–2012 remain significant.
are expected to be less than 3 % below 1990 levels,
compared with the Kyoto Protocol target of 8 %. Water use is expected to decrease markedly in
However, taking into account the latest policy most of Europe; however, many Mediterranean
developments (e.g. emissions trading scheme with river basins will continue to face water stress. Total
national allocation plans assessed and adopted by the water abstraction in Europe is expected to decrease
European Commission in the second half of 2004), by more than 10 % by 2030. The sectoral profile
and provided that Member States implement all of water use in most of Europe is changing: the
the additional policies, measures and third-country manufacturing sector and households are replacing
projects they are currently planning, and that several the electricity sector as the main abstractors. In
cut emissions by more than they have to, the EU is southern Europe, irrigation continues to dominate
likely to be able to meet its Kyoto Protocol target. (more than 40 % of the total), and expanding
irrigated areas and likely climate changes are
The long-term European greenhouse gas emission expected to increase vulnerability to droughts and
targets, set to prevent harmful climate change, are other extreme climatic events.
6 European environment outlookExecutive summary
The urban waste water treatment (UWWT) providing ample opportunities for implementing
directive is expected to lead to a significant cost-effective mechanisms or 'leapfrogging'
reduction in the overall discharge of nutrients towards the use of newer, more resource-efficient
from point sources. With implementation of technologies.
the UWWT directive, emissions of nitrogen and
phosphorus are expected to decrease significantly The EU's sixth environment action programme
as a result of an increase in the proportion of the sets objectives and key environmental priorities.
European population connected to wastewater The EU seems to be on track to meet the targets
treatment (to more than 75 %) and more use of set for a number of issues, particularly for air
tertiary treatment. However, nutrient discharges pollution and nutrient emissions from point sources.
from rural populations not connected to wastewater Encouraging developments are also expected in
treatment (about 30 % of the population in the 10 other areas, for example a reduction in agricultural
new Member States) and from other diffuse sources nutrient surpluses and water stress, and a relative
such as agriculture, are expected to remain a major decoupling of transport demand from economic
water pollution problem. It is therefore vital, if growth. However, the EU continues to face
water quality is to improve further, to continue significant challenges with respect to meeting the
to shift policy focus from point sources to diffuse targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions
sources, for example through the catchment area and climate change, and achieving the goals for the
management approaches introduced in the water use of alternative sources of energy for electricity
framework directive. generation, heat and transport.
The recent enlargement of the EU continues The current shift to more integrated approaches
to provide both environmental opportunities towards environmental policies provides further
and threats. EU legislation has in many cases led opportunities to improve the future state of
to stronger environmental legislation in the 10 Europe's environment. For many environmental
new Member States (New-10). At the same time, problems, past and current legislation has often
improved economic prospects and the associated successfully addressed the 'big polluters', but
higher levels of individual consumption are likely new concerns are likely to arise from individual
to increase the pressure on the environment. In consumption and diffuse sources of pollution. A
contrast to the overall European trends, the use shift in the nature of environmental pressures is
of water by households and mineral fertilisers in expected: from production towards consumption,
agriculture are expected to increase substantially and from large point sources to more fragmented
in the New-10 (by more than 70 % and 35 % and diffuse sources (including households,
respectively, although these remain lower than in the agriculture and transport infrastructure). Successful
EU-15 in absolute terms). Meanwhile, comparably responses may require policy-makers to give more
low increases in future greenhouse gas emissions consideration to the common drivers and sectoral
are expected to contribute significantly to limiting developments (for example in transport and
total EU emissions. Also, resource productivity in agriculture) behind many environmental pressures
the New-10 is expected to remain relatively low in Europe, and to address these in a coherent
(currently about four times lower than in the EU-15), manner.
7European environment outlookLooking ahead — setting the scene
1.
1.1 Looking ahead: what for? these issues and their common driving forces in the
6technical, social and economic realms ( ).
In striving to become more sustainable, we must
seek to meet the needs of the present without The analysis extends to the 2020s and beyond, and
compromising the ability of future generations brings together new quantitative information (where
to meet their own needs, in economic, social and models and tools are available) and both quantitative
1environmental terms ( ). In this context, Europe is and qualitative understanding derived from former
aiming to become a more dynamic and competitive EEA reports and other studies.
knowledge-based economy, capable of sustainable
economic growth with more and better jobs and A short overview of the current understanding
2greater social cohesion ( ). and the policy dimensions of environmental issues
provides a natural starting point for analysing
In support of these goals, assessments of the state of plausible future developments in Chapter 2. Today's
the environment are only complete if they reflect the prime concerns with regard to the state of Europe's
future prospects for the environment by discussing, in environment include climate change and the quality of
an 'outlook', how developments may unfold, together air, water stress and quality, soil degradation, and loss
with a view of the wide range of uncertainties that the of biodiversity and natural capital, as well as changes
future may hold. This becomes particularly important in consumption patterns, the use of natural resources,
where environmental systems display considerable waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. While all these
time-lags between actions and their consequences. issues are recognised as having their own distinct
characteristics, they are also inter-connected through a
range of common driving forces.
1.2 The European environment outlook
Developments in demography, macro-economy,
The European Environment Agency's flagship sectors, technology and socio-cultural values are
report on the 'State of the environment and likely to continue to exert a decisive influence on the
outlook' in 2005 addresses the main environmental pressures on the environment and its state, as they do
3concerns that Europe is facing ( ), provides today. How they may unfold under a set of 'baseline'
7a state-of-the-art overview based on current assumptions ( ), and some of the immediate
scientific understanding, and addresses the policy consequences, are presented in Chapter 3. The
4dimensions of current and upcoming challenges ( ). interplay between these driving forces and the
environment will continue to change Europe, and
The EEA's State of the environment and outlook the changes themselves will also induce feedbacks
report draws from a range of supporting sub- and cause additional changes. Chapter 4 spotlights
reports and technical documents (see Box 1.1). important environmental changes likely under these
Within this framework, this report explores baseline assumptions.
plausible future developments in more detail for
5Europe and its regions ( ), and thus complements However, future developments are not cast in stone,
the overall assessment of the current state of the but subject to considerable uncertainties, surprises,
environment. and to our own future actions. Indeed, one aim
of providing an outlook is to identify looming
This report also describes plausible alternative undesirable developments and think through
scenarios, to help identify appropriate response plausible alternative paths. Thus, Chapters 3 and 4
options and assess whether Europe is on track to also highlight some key uncertainties in the
meeting its environmental objectives. It addresses projections, and explore the implications of a
a range of environmental concerns in a consistent low greenhouse gas emission scenario and other
and integrated manner, highlighting links between alternatives in some detail (see Box 1.2).
8 European environment outlook

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