Environment at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators

This book offers a comprehensive snapshot of key environmental trends in OECD member countries since the early 1990s. It is organised by issues such as:

  • climate change
  • air pollution
  • biodiversity and water resources
  • waste
  • water
  • wastewater

The report reveals big differences in environmental trends in different countries. It confirms that much more needs to be done to break the link between economic growth and environmental damage, and to safeguard the natural resource base on which economic activity and human welfare depends.

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensities per unit of GDP and per capita are decreasing in most OECD countries, though decoupling remains weak. Many countries have not succeeded in meeting their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. 
  • In OECD Europe, Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use have stayed more or less stable due to changes in economic structures and the energy supply mix, energy savings and implementation of policies.
  • Sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission intensities per capita and per unit of GDP show significant variations among OECD countries. Two-thirds of the countries have achieved a strong decoupling from economic growth since the 1990s.
  • Some groups of the population are especially vulnerable to particulate emissions and air pollution. The very young and the very old are more at risk than the remainder of the population.
  • The use of irrigation freshwater resources in the OECD area slightly declined compared to agricultural production, but in about half of the OECD countries agricultural water use increased driven by expansion in the irrigated area.
  • In recent decades, OECD countries have been progressing with basic domestic water pollution abatement and with sewerage and wastewater treatment infrastructure.
  • Over the last two decades, OECD countries have put significant efforts into curbing municipal solid waste generation. More and more waste is being diverted from landfills and incinerators and fed back into the economy through recycling.