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Facts and Figures on the Environment: From Environmental Taxes to Water Resources
added: 2010-12-13

What share of fresh water resources is being abstracted each year? How has the number of wild birds changed over the last 20 years? What share of GDP do environmental taxes account for? In which Member State is the most waste per capita generated? How much fertilizer is consumed in agriculture?

These questions and many others on environmental issues can be answered by consulting the publication "Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe" from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The publication has a special focus on the various impacts that European households have on the environment.

One of the priorities of the European Commission is a better environment for everyone. Statistics are increasingly important for the definition, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of environmental policies, in particular the "Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth". This publication covers key environmental statistics available at Eurostat, the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. This Eurostat publication is complementary to the five yearly assessment "European environment - state and outlook 2010", which was published by the European Environment Agency on 30 November 2010.

Largest freshwater resources per capita available in Finland, Sweden and Slovenia

Freshwater resources are either stocks held in the ground (groundwater) or are available from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, etc. (surface water). As a consequence of differences in climate and population density, the total freshwater resources available are unevenly distributed between Member States, ranging from 100 m3 per capita in Malta, 400 m3 in Cyprus, 1 500 m3 in the Czech Republic and 1 700 m3 in Poland to 20 700 m3 per capita in Finland, 19 800 m3 in Sweden, 15 800 m3 in Slovenia, 14 900 m3 in Latvia and 14 800 m3 in Slovakia.

The water exploitation index represents the total volume of water abstracted in a given year as a share of total freshwater resources. This index depends on the fresh water resources naturally available as well as the level of use of water by households, industry, energy suppliers and agriculture. The index varies widely among Member States, with the lowest shares observed in Latvia, Slovakia and Sweden (all 1%) and Ireland (2%), and the highest in Cyprus (64%), Belgium (32%), Spain (30%) and Malta (21%).

Decrease in common bird populations since 1990

Birds are an excellent indicator of the health of the environment, as they are generally well studied, occur in many habitats and respond to changes in their food sources and in their physical environment. In order to measure the evolution of the number of birds of different species, three series have been set up. They consist of "all common birds" (137 species) and two sub-sets, "forest birds" (30 species, e.g. woodpeckers, jays, warblers) and "farmland birds" (36 species, e.g. skylarks, partridges, lapwings). The separate series for forest and farmland birds show how the populations of common breeding bird species that depend on forests or on agricultural land for nesting or feeding are faring.

While year to year changes in the indices should be treated with caution, the long-term trends indicate that the common forest and farmland birds are declining far more than birds of the remaining 71 generalist species in the "all common birds" index. Compared with 1990, the index of the number of "all common birds" declined by around 10% by 2008, while those for "common farmland birds" and "common forest birds" fell by 15-20%. Since 2002 however the trends appear to have levelled off.

Environmental taxes range from 1.6% of GDP in Spain to 5.7% in Denmark

In the EU27 in 2008, environmental taxes accounted for 2.4% of GDP. The Member States with the highest shares of environmental taxes in GDP were Denmark (5.7%), the Netherlands (3.9%), Bulgaria and Malta (both 3.5%), and the lowest Spain (1.6%), Lithuania (1.7%), Romania (1.8%) and Latvia (1.9%).

Energy taxes made up 72% of total environmental taxes in the EU27, transport taxes 23% and taxes on pollution and resources 5%. Energy taxes made up the largest proportions of environmental taxes in all Member States, except Malta. The highest shares of energy taxes were observed in Lithuania, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic (all 93% of total environmental taxes) and Slovakia (90%). The highest shares of transport taxes were found in Cyprus (50% of total environmental taxes), Malta (48%) and Ireland (47%), while the largest proportions of taxes on pollution and resources were observed in Denmark (31%), the Netherlands (17%) and Estonia (14%).

Source: Eurostat

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