Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Key message

Progress towards national targets for input of nutrients: How much is left to reach the HELCOM nutrient input targets set for a clean Baltic Sea?

These are the key results of the assessment of progress towards the national targets for nitrogen input adopted by the 2013 Copenhagen HELCOM Ministerial Declaration. 

National targets for nitrogen and phosphorus inputs have been expressed as nutrient input ceilings for each country by sub-basin.

(Poland accepts the Polish Country Allocated Reduction Targets as indicative due to the ongoing national consultations. Ref. Ministerial Declaration 2013, page 6, footnote 2.)

Reductions still needed

Table 1.
Total Nitrogen. Evaluation of input ceilings fulfilment

Based on statistically estimated inputs (scroll down for full legend)

A) Including reallocation of extra reduction.

B) Without reallocation of extra reduction.

Table 2.
Total Phosphorus. Evaluation of input ceilings fulfilment

Based on statistically estimated inputs (scroll down for full legend)

A) Including reallocation of extra reduction.

B) Without reallocation of extra reduction.

Legend

Reduction still left to the target* is:

– Less than 10%
– Between 10 and 30%
– Between 30% and 50%
– 50% or more

*) Yellow, orange and red shades: input ceiling is exceeded. The legend illustrates the percentage which reduction left to the target constitutes in the corresponding input ceiling value.

– Within statistical certainty, the fulfilment of NIC cannot be justified
– NIC is with 95 % statistical certainty fulfilled; inputs ceiling not exceeded
– Classification is not relevant

– Only airborne inputs to the sub-basin
– Only transboundary waterborne inputs to the sub-basin
– Application of extra reduction achieved in neighbouring basins changed status

Arrows: statistically significant changes of nutrient inputs since the reference period (1997-2003), taking into account 95% confidence interval for both latest inputs and reference values.

– Significant decrease
– Significant increase

“Other countries” includes sources for atmospheric nitrogen deposition as the 20 EU countries not being HELCOM Contracting Parties, countries outside EU including Belarus, Ukraine, North Sea shipping etc.

For reviewing the input data used to evaluate fulfilment of NIC and the amount of remaining reductions, please see the data page.

Key messages

Based on estimation of normalized inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus from 1995 to 2017 (Tables 1 and 2) the following conclusion can be made:

Progress towards nitrogen input ceilings

Fulfilment of input ceilings:

  • Denmark is the only country that fulfilled nitrogen input ceilings for all HELCOM sub-basins except the Baltic Proper, where the remaining reduction is less than 3% of the input ceilings for this sub-basin. Reallocation of extra reduction achieved in the Danish Straights, Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Riga to the Baltic Proper allows Denmark to achieve the target set for national input to the Baltic Proper. Denmark reduced total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins since the reference period.
  • Estonia achieved the national input ceiling for Danish Straights. The highest remaining reductions for the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Finland constitute 30% and 26%, respectively. Missing reduction of inputs to other sub-basins is less than 10% or within statistical uncertainty. Inputs since the reference period were either reduced or do not demonstrate statistically significant trends.
  • Finland achieved nitrogen input ceilings for most sub-basins except to the Gulf of Finland and Bothnian Bay. The remaining reduction for the Gulf of Finland is 7% and for the Bothnian Bay is within statistical uncertainty. Reallocation of the extra reduction from Bothnian Sea to Bothnian Bay reduces the missing reduction to 0.05%, which remains within statistical uncertainty. Finland reduced total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins since the reference period.
  • Germany has not achieved nitrogen input ceilings for the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Finland, missing 39% and 18% respectively. Reduction requirements for Kattegat were achieved due to reallocation of extra reduction from Danish Straights. Reallocation of remaining extra reductions from Danish Straights and the Gulf of Riga to Baltic Proper does not change the picture. Germany reduced total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins since the reference period.
  • Latvia reached the input ceiling for the Gulf of Riga. The input ceiling for Baltic Proper was met through reallocation of extra reduction from the Gulf of Riga. Latvia decreased inputs to Bothnian Bay, Danish Straights and Kattegat and increased inputs to Baltic Proper since the reference period.
  • Lithuania exceeded its ceilings to all sub-basins, however, remaining reduction for Lithuania to the Bothnian Bay and Bothnian Sea are slightly more than 5%. Lithuania increased input to Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Riga since the reference period. Inputs to other sub-basins have not been significantly changed since the reference period.
  • Poland achieved the input ceiling for the Bothnian Bay and exceeded the input ceiling for the Bothnian Sea within statistical uncertainty. Input ceilings for other sub-basins are exceeded, though the missing reduction for the input to Danish Straits is only about 4 %. Inputs since the reference period were either reduced or do not demonstrate statistically significant trends.
  • Russia exceeded national input ceilings to all sub-basins, however, the remaining reduction for Russia to meet the ceiling for the Gulf of Finland is only about 5%. Inputs since the reference period were reduced to the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Riga and do not demonstrate statistically significant trends for the remaining sub-basins.
  • Sweden achieved nitrogen input ceilings for most of the HELCOM sub-basins except for the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Finland. The remaining reduction for the latter constitutes only 2% while the reduction requirement for the Baltic Proper remains still 24%. The reallocation of extra reduction achieved in Danish Straights and the Gulf of Riga to Baltic Proper does not significantly change the remaining reduction requirements. Sweden has reduced total nitrogen inputs to all HELCOM sub-basins since the reference period.
  • In general, the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Finland have the highest remaining reductions to achieve the ceilings for most countries.
  • Waterborne transboundary inputs from Belarus, Czech Republic and Ukraine exceed corresponding input ceilings. Ukraine is the only non-HELCOM country which has increased waterborne nitrogen input to Baltic Proper since the reference period.
  • Atmospheric nitrogen inputs from Baltic Sea shipping exceed their target values to all sub-basins. Input from Baltic Sea shipping is approximately 500% higher than the input ceilings. Nonetheless, the inputs have been reduced to all sub-basins since the reference period.
  • Other non-HELCOM countries and sources exceed respective target values for atmospheric input of nitrogen to all sub-basins.

Progress towards phosphorus input ceilings

Fulfilment of input ceilings:

  • None of the HELCOM countries fulfilled the input ceiling for phosphorus to all HELCOM sub-basins without reallocation of extra reduction. In relative terms, higher reduction remains to meet maximum allowable input (MAI) for phosphorus than for nitrogen (13% and 38% of MAI respectively, HELCOM Core indicator).
  • All HELCOM and non-HELCOM countries exceeded input ceilings for the Baltic Proper. 
  • No countries increased their input of phosphorus since the reference period. All demonstrate either downward trends or no statistically significant trends in inputs.
  • Denmark achieved reduction requirements for the Kattegat and Danish Straits. Input ceiling for the Baltic Proper is achieved applying the extra reduction from Danish Straits.
  • Estonia exceeded input ceilings to the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Proper. The fulfilling of reduction requirement for the Gulf of Riga is within statistical uncertainty. 
  • Finland exceeded input ceilings to the Gulf of Finland and Bothnian Sea but achieved it for the Bothnian Bay.
  • Germany meets the input ceiling for Danish Straits but has not achieved it for Baltic Proper.
  • Latvia exceeded ceilings for both the Gulf of Riga and Baltic Proper.
  • Lithuania fulfilled the input ceiling for the Gulf of Riga but exceeded it for the Baltic Proper. Reallocation of extra reduction achieved by Lithuania in the Gulf of Riga allowed reducing remaining reduction to the Baltic Proper to less than 30%.
  • Poland exceeded the input ceiling for the Baltic Proper.
  • Russia exceeded input ceilings for the Gulf of Riga and Baltic Proper. It cannot be proven with statistical certainty that the input ceiling for the Gulf of Finland is achieved, due to the high variability of the assessment data. 
  • Sweden achieved input ceilings for the Bothnian Sea and Danish Straits. The reduction requirement for the Bothnian Bay was fulfilled through reallocation of extra reduction of input to Bothnian Sea. The achievement of the input ceiling to Kattegat is within statistical uncertainty even after reallocation of extra reduction from Danish Straits. The reduction requirements for the Baltic proper is not achieved. 
  • Non-HELCOM countries Belarus, Czech Republic, and Ukraine exceeded reduction requirements for the Baltic Proper. It cannot be proven with statistical certainty that the input ceiling for the Gulf of Riga is achieved by Belarus. 
  • All countries fulfilled national ceilings for total phosphorus inputs to Danish Straits and Bothnian Bay when accounting for extra reductions.

Revision of time series and nutrient input ceilings.

The time series (1995-2017) of nitrogen and phosphorus input have been reviewed and for some countries considerable re-reporting has been performed since the last assessment (2017). Further, EMEP has recalculated the annual atmospheric nitrogen deposition on sub-basins using improved model and resolution, which led to a remarkably higher deposition compared to former assessments. This has resulted in an overall increase of estimated inputs to the Baltic Sea sub-basins particularly for total nitrogen also in the reference period. One of the consequences is that the commitment to reach good environmental status of the Baltic Sea in terms of input of nutrients, particularly for total nitrogen, requires a larger reduction than the CARTs agreed on in the Ministerial Declaration in 2013.

Nutrient Input Ceilings (NICs) agreed by the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration were used for the current assessment. Pursuant to the BSAP provision which commits to reviewing and revision of maximum allowable inputs and nutrient reduction requirements using a harmonized approach and updated information, the nutrient input ceilings are currently being revised. New data on airborne nitrogen deposition, transboundary loads and retentions as well as updates of national data on nutrient inputs in the past years together with revised estimates of expected reduction in atmospheric nitrogen deposition from non-HELCOM countries and shipping (HELCOM ENIRED II project[1]) are utilized in the revision. Maximum allowable inputs will remain unchanged and as agreed by the 2013 HELCOM Ministerial Declaration. The same agreed allocation principles and methodology are utilized for the NICs’ update as for calculation of NICs agreed in 2013. 

Authors:

Lars M. SvendsenA, Bo GustafssonB, Søren Erik Larsenand Dmitry Frank-KamenetskyC

A) DCE, Danish Center for Environment and Energy, Aarhus University
B) BNI, Baltic Nest Institute, Stockholm University
C) HELCOM Secretariat


[1] ENIRED II estimates expected reduction of total nitrogen deposition in 2030 due to implementation of the EU NEC Directive, Goteborg Protocol and the Nitrogen Emission Control Area in the Baltic Sea.