Explanation of Key Trends - Sulfur Dioxide

Last updated on 04 Dec 2014 08:38 (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 (First Sulphur Protocol, 1985) to reduce its annual sulphur emissions by at least 30% by 1993, as compared to 1980 levels. In 1993, the SO2 emissions were 2.8Mt, compared to approximately 7.5 Mt in 1980. This represents a reduction of over 60%. 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 target set for 2005 had already been achieved by 1998.
The latest UN ECE protocol aims to minimise the damage caused by acidification, eutrophication, and ground level ozone (known as “Göteborg multi-component protocol”, s. NEC Directive of the EC, adopted in German law through the 33rd Ordinance – 33. BImschV) and obliges the Federal Republic of Germany to reduce SO2 emissions to 550 kt by 2010.

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 93% reduction between 1990-2012. In 1990, the biggest source of emissions therein is Public Electricity and Heat Production (NFR 1.A.1.a) with about 60% 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 2012, 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 1990-2012

Total Emissions (Gg) Trend: latest compared to
1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 1990 last years
5,283 1,705 638 460 471 454 454 407 430 424 427 down_green.png -91.9% stagnate_yellow.png

SO2 trend by sector

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