Explanation of Key Trends - Sulfur Dioxide

Last updated on 09 Mar 2017 15:11 (cf. Authors)


Under the terms of the UN ECE Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Control (CLTRAP, 1979), the Federal Republic of Germany was obliged by the UN ECE Helsinki Protocol to reduce its annual sulphur emissions by at least 30% by 1993, as compared to 1980 levels. In 1993, the SO2 emissions were 2.4 Mt, compared to approximately 7.5 Mt in 1980. This represents a reduction of over 68%. The second UN ECE protocol on the reduction of sulphur emissions obliged Germany to reduce SO2 emissions to 1,300kt by 2000, and to 990kt by 2005. The targets set for 2000 & 2005 have already been achieved by 1998.

More recently, Germany has made a commitment under the multicomponent protocol to further minimise SO2 emissions. Since 2010, it is no longer permissible to exceed a National Emission Ceiling of 550kt SO2 for Germany as whole. The revised Gothenburg Protocol and the revised NEC Directive both define emission reduction targets relative to a 2005 base year, mandating 21% (2020) and 58% (2030) reductions respectively.

Further details can be found in Chapter 9 - Projections and Chapter 11 - Adjustments and Emission Ceiling Exceedance.

Main drivers

By far the largest proportion of SO2 is produced by the oxidation of the sulphur contained in the fuels used in combustion processes, Fuel Combustion (NFR 1.A) with close to 96% of total SO2 emissions in 1990 and a 95% reduction between 1990-2015. In 1990, the biggest source of emissions therein is Public Electricity and Heat Production (NFR 1.A.1.a) with about 44% of the emissions from Fuel Combustion (NFR 1.A). Other sources substantially influencing the SO2 emission trend are Manufacturing Industries and Construction (NFR 1.A.2) and Other Sectors (NFR 1.A.4, including commercial/institutional and residential sources), each adding about one fifth of 1990 emissions from Fuel Combustion (NFR 1.A). All of these sub-categories show a reduction >90 per cent between 1990 and 2015, due to stricter regulations of West Germany that applied to the New German Länder after the German Reunification and changed the fuel mix from sulphur-rich solid fuels to liquid and gaseous fuels.

SO2 Emissions 1990-2015

Total Emissions (Gg) Trend: latest compared to
1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 1990 last years
5,485 1,745 644 472 473 456 453 396 409 399 381 373 357 352 down_green.png -93.6% stagnate_yellow.png

SO2 trend by sector

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License