Text from the Indicator Report 2022
This indicator is an unweighted arithmetic mean and summarizes the percentage development of released emissions in Germany, these are sulphur dioxide (SO₂), nitrogen oxides (NOₓ), ammonia (NH₃), volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and particulate matter (PM₂.₅). The individual rates of change of the single air pollutants are offset equally against one another, even if the causes and the consequences differ. Thus, this indicator is mere indirectly dependent on the fulfilment of emission reduction targets set by the European Union. Hence, the reduction targets for the indicator might be met, while emission reduction targets for individual air pollutants are missed.
The data is computed annually by the German Environment Agency using various sources. They serve as a basis for the reporting obligation pursuant to the Geneva Convention and the National Emission Ceilings Directive. The data is further processed within the context of the Federal Statistical Office’s Environmental-Economic Accounts. As a result, emissions are published according to various production sectors and households along with other emitters.
Emissions of air pollutants overall fell by 34.8 % until 2020 from 2005. The indicator thus moved in the intended direction and will reach the target for 2030 if the development remains the same. Emissions of individual pollutants changed to varying degrees in the period from 2005 to 2020. Based on the development of the preceding years, compliance with the emission reduction targets by 2030 is feasible, to which Germany is committed towards the EU. In fact, Germany might reach the target for every single air pollutant.
Emissions of volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), which are primarily due to the industrial use of solvents, were significantly reduced by 30.4 % during the specified period.
In the specified period emissions of particulate matter (PM₂.₅) have been reduced by 39.8 %. At 26.9 %, the largest proportion of PM₂.₅ emissions originated from households and small consumers in 2020. The industry sector produced 25.9 % emissions. The transport sector accounted for 26.5 % of PM₂.₅ emissions in the same year and, thus, decreased by 9.3 percentage points compared to 2005.
Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOₓ) were reduced by 40.1 % until 2020 in comparison to 2005, hence going in the intended direction. In 2020 the main share of nitrogen oxides was emitted mainly by transport and the energy sector.
Emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO₂), which are mainly generated in the energy sector, decreased by 50.8 % in the specified period.
In 2019 and 2020, the emissions of ammonia (NH) decreased for the first time significantly below 2005 level. During the period under consideration from 2005 to 2020, the decline adds up to 10.9 %. However, ammonia emissions increased temporarily between 2005 and 2018, such that the overall reductions are rather small. Agricultural land use, among others the output of fermentation residues after the fermentation of energy crops, mainly caused the temporary growth of emissions between 2005 and 2018. Agricultural land use is responsible for about half of the ammonia emissions. Emissions from this source increased during the period from 2005 to 2018 and are decreasing since 2016. Since 2019, they are below the value from 2005 for the first time.