Environmental indicators

This indicator shows the annual emissions of greenhouse gas in thousand tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emitted by point and diffuse sources of pollution. Carbon dioxide equivalent is one ton of carbon dioxide or another greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide, methane, F-gases) that has been recalculated into carbon dioxide quantity by using the global warming potential.

The main greenhouse gas in Estonia is carbon dioxide which forms 88.1% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The percentage of methane (CH4) is 5.9%, the percentage of dinitrogen oxide (N2O) is 4.8% and the percentage of F-gases 1.2%. Greenhouse gases cause climatic changes which may result in an increased risk of floods, a decrease in (drinking) water supply, and a decrease in soil quality.

The total emission of greenhouse gases has decreased by around 55% compared to 1990 without considering the impact of land use and the forestry sector.

This great decrease in emissions was caused by the reorganisation of the economy at the beginning of the 1990s. Nowadays, the main influencing factors of emissions are economic growth and recession. The largest contributor to the total GHG emissions is the oil shale-based energy sector, which amounted to 87.9% in 2015 (including mobile sources which forms 11% of the total GHG emissions). These are followed by agriculture, industrial processes and waste handling.

Several measures are implemented and planned to be implemented in the future to decrease and limit greenhouse gas emissions. As the majority of the GHG emissions originates from the energy sector, this sector also has the highest potential of decreasing emissions. Renewable energy (e.g. wind and solar energy) and wider use of biofuels has a positive impact on limiting and decreasing GHG emissions. The use of renewable energy is supported with investment aids, direct aids, as well as more efficient cogeneration.

 

CO2 emissions

 

This indicator shows the actual annual emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO2) emitted by point and diffuse sources of pollution in thousands of tons, as well as reduction targets for the years 2020–2029 and 2030 as compared with the base year (2005) in percentages.

In 2015, 47.3% of nitrogen oxides emitted into ambient air originated from mobile sources of pollution. A significant source of pollution was the energy sector (25.5%) and to a lesser extent, nitrogen oxides emissions came from non-industrial combustion (17.2%). Similarly to sulphur dioxide, the main stationary sources of nitrogen oxides pollution are larger power stations using oil shale.

Compared to 1990, the emissions of nitrogen oxides decreased by 60.2% by 2015. Changes in the energy and transport sector are the main causes for a decrease in emissions. Emissions of nitrogen oxides from mobile sources of pollution have decreased by 61.7%. Emissions decreased most at the beginning of the 1990s, as the use of both petrol and diesel fuel in road transport decreased significantly in 1990–1993 – by 58% and 45%, respectively. Since 1994, the use of fuels in the transport sector has stabilised. In recent years, the use of diesel fuel has increased, but at the same time, the number of new motor vehicles with catalysts has also increased.

Pursuant to the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), Estonia will have to decrease its nitrogen oxides emissions by 2020–2029 by 18% and by 2030 by 30% compared to the base year level (2005). Achieving the goal of decreasing emissions together with other European countries helps to decrease the number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths caused by air pollution by nearly half by the year 2030.

The green columns on the following diagram indicate national emission projection.

emissions

 

This indicator shows the actual annual emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emitted by point and diffuse sources of pollution as well as emissions forecast for upcoming years in thousands of tons and reduction targets for the years 2020–2029 and 2030 as compared with the base year (2005) in percentages.

Non-methane volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) cause the formation of tropospheric ozone which is damaging to the biosphere and the surrounding environment due to its strong oxidising effect, but also has a corrosive and irritating effect on living organisms. Tropospheric ozone does not evolve directly as a result of technological or burning processes, but is created as a result of a photochemical reaction and is one of the components of smog that appears in large cities.

The majority of the non-methane volatile organic compounds emitted into ambient air in Estonia is a result of industrial processes and use of other product (around 35% in 2015). 22% comes from livestock manure management and 15% from non-industrial combustion. For comparison, in 1990, the main sources were road transport and the chemical industry.

In 1990–2015, the emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased by 65%. This was mainly caused by changes in the chemical industry, also by a decrease in the number of motor vehicles with a petrol engine.

Pursuant to the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), Estonia will have to decrease its non-methane volatile organic compound emissions by 2020–2029 by 10% and by 2030 by 28% compared to the base year level (2005). Achieving the goal of decreasing emissions together with other European countries helps to decrease the number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths caused by air pollution by nearly half by the year 2030.

The following diagram provides actual emissions by fields of activity (proportions in a column marked with different colours). The lines indicate goals set for Estonia that must be achieved respectively by 2020–2029 and 2030. The green columns represent national emission projection.

emissions

 

This indicator shows the actual annual emissions of ammonia (NH3) emitted by point and diffuse sources of pollution in thousands of tons, as well as reduction targets for the years 2020–2029 and 2030 as compared with the base year (2005) in percentages.

Sulphur and nitrogen compounds (including ammonia) form acids when reacting with air humidity which damage the environment, including forests, biota of water bodies, as well as buildings and other valuables in the form of acid rains. Acidification is caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3) emitted into ambient air as a result of human activity.

The majority of ammonia emitted into the ambient air in Estonia is caused by agriculture (ca 90.8% in 2015). 75.4% of ammonia is caused by livestock manure management and 15.4% by using mineral fertilisers. A marginal share of ammonia comes from road transport and combusting wood in households.

In 1990–2015, emissions of ammonia decreased by 46.4%, which was mainly caused by changes in the economic sector. For example, area under cultivation, quantities of fertilisers used and the number of farm animals have decreased. Compared to 1990, the use of fertilisers has decreased by nearly 38.6% and the number of cattle and sows has decreased by 66.2% and 64.6%, respectively.

Pursuant to the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), Estonia will have to decrease its ammonia emissions by 2020–2030 by 1% compared to the base year level (2005). Achieving the goal of decreasing emissions together with other European countries helps to decrease the number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths caused by air pollution by nearly half by the year 2030.

The green columns on the following diagram indicate national emission projection.

emissions

 

This indicator shows the actual annual emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emitted by point and diffuse sources of pollution in thousands of tons, as well as reduction targets for the years 2020–2029 and 2030 as compared with the base year (2005) in percentages.

Sulphur and nitrogen compounds form acids when reacting with air humidity which damage the environment, including forests, biota of water bodies, as well as buildings and other valuables in the form of acid rains. Acidification is caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3) emitted into ambient air as a result of human activity.

The main sources polluting the air with sulphur dioxide in Estonia are Narva power stations operating based on oil shale (oil shale is a fossil fuel with a high sulphur and ash content), the emissions of which formed 53.8% of the total emissions in 2015. Compared to 1990, the emissions of sulphur dioxide have decreased by 88.3% which is related to a decrease in the use of oil shale and residual oil in 1990–2015 by 30% and 99.95%, respectively. During that period, provisions regulating the sulphur content of liquid fuels were made stricter and the proportion of renewable energy sources increased. The diagram presents the fuels used in thermal units (PJ).

In recent years, a decrease in the emissions of sulphur dioxide has been supported by the renovation of oil shale power stations in Estonia where old  pulverised combustion technology has been replaced by new circulated fluidised bed combustion technology. Upgraded technology has enabled increasing the efficiency of the boilers and decreasing the amount of oil shale needed. In the new boilers, sulphur dioxide is bound as early as during the burning process, which is why sulphur dioxide emissions have become basically non-existent. In addition to the renovation of energy blocks, a decrease in the sulphur dioxide emissions has been affected by shutting down of old energy blocks in the Balti power station and the introduction of a desulphurisation technology.

Pursuant to the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), Estonia will have to decrease its sulphur dioxide emissions by 2020–2029 by 32% and by 2030 by 68% compared to the base year level (2005). Achieving the goal of decreasing emissions together with other European countries helps to decrease the number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths caused by air pollution by nearly half by the year 2030.

emissions

 

The majority of the fine particles emitted into ambient air in Estonia is mainly caused by oil shale-based energetics (ca 37% in 2015). 32% of fine particles come from non-industrial combustion (mainly wood burning) and 15% from combustion in manufacturing industry. Mobile sources and agriculture are more significant from other pollution sources.

In 2000–2015, emissions of fine particles decreased by 9%, which was mainly caused by a decrease in the production of electricity.

Pursuant to the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), Estonia will have to decrease its emissions of fine particles by 2020–2029 by 15% and by 2030 by 41% compared to the base year level (2005). Achieving the goal of decreasing emissions together with other European countries helps to decrease the number of respiratory illnesses and premature deaths caused by air pollution by nearly half by the year 2030.

emissions

 

 

Last updated: 14 December 2017


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