During the last twenty-five years European emission data have been compiled and reported under the Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP) as part of the work under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). This paper presents emission trends of SO2 reported to EMEP and validated within the programme for the period 1980-2004. These European anthropogenic sulphur emissions have been steadily decreasing over the last twenty-five years, amounting from about 55 Tg SO2 in 1980 to 15 Tg SO2 in 2004. The uncertainty in sulphur emission estimates for individual countries and years are documented to range between 3% and 25%. The relative contribution of European emissions to global anthropogenic sulphur emissions has been halved during this period. Based on annual emission reports from European countries, three emission reduction regimes have been identified. The period 1980-1989 is characterized by low annual emission reductions (below 5% reduction per year and 20% for the whole period) and is dominated by emission reductions in Western Europe. The period 1990-1999 is characterised by high annual emission reductions (up to 11% reduction per year and 54% for the whole period), most pronounced in Central and Eastern Europe. The annual emission reductions in the period 2000-2004 are medium to low (below 6% reduction per year and 17% for the whole period) and reflect the unified Europe, with equally large reductions in both East and West. The sulphur emission reduction has been largest in the sector Combustion in energy and transformation industries, but substantial decreases are also seen in the Non-industrial combustion plants together with the sectors Industrial combustion and Industrial production processes. The majority of European countries have reduced their emissions by more than 60% between 1990 and 2004, and one quarter have already achieved sulphur emission reductions higher than 80%. At European level, the total sulphur target for 2010 set in the Gothenburg Protocol (16 Tg) has apparently already been met by 2004. However, still half of the Parties to the Gothenburg Protocol have to reduce further their sulphur emissions in order to attain their individual country total emission targets for 2010. It is also noteworthy that, contrasting the Gothenburg Protocol requirements, a growing number of countries have recently been reporting increasing sulphur emissions, while others report only minor further decreases. The emission trends presented here are supported by different studies of air concentrations and depositions carried out within and outside the framework of the LRTAP Convention.
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