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Introduction


What do environmental accounts measure?
Environmental accounts (EA):


  • track the links between the environment and the economy at EU, national, sector and industry level.
  • measure what impacts the economy has on the environment (e.g. pollution) and how the environment contributes to the economy (e.g. use of raw materials, resource efficiency, etc.) by using the accounting framework and concepts of the national accounts.
  • list, in quantifiable terms, for example, the amount of pollution produced by different industries, which may in turn be compared with employment and the value of output produced by these industries.
Uses
EA help policymakers decide where it is most efficient to act with targeted measures.

In particular, environmental accounts can be used to analyse:

  • the impact of current production and consumption patterns on natural resources and the environment:

    • reduction of the use of resources – with indicators such as resource productivity and material consumption
    • development of the environment industry
    • climate change – with indicators such as carbon intensity of industries
  • the effects of economic policy measures, such as:

    • environmental taxes (energy, transport, pollution and resource taxes)
    • subsidies
    • current environmental expenditures
    • environmental investment by industries
Structure
Environmental accounts comprise several modules, each focusing on a specific area of environmental concern. Eurostat is currently working on three broad sets of modules:

  • Environmental accounts expressed in physical terms, including:

    • Air emissions accounts (including greenhouse gases)
    • Economy-wide material flow accounts
    • Energy accounts
    • Water accounts

  • Environmental accounts expressed in monetary terms, including:

    • Environmental taxes
    • Environmental subsidies and similar transfers
    • Environmental protection expenditure
    • Resource use and management expenditure
    • Environmental goods and services sector

  • Asset accounts, including:

    • Forestry accounts
    • Natural resource accounts for oil and gas
Legal Base
As the different modules are at different stages of methodological maturity, much of the on-going work involves developing the methodology, exploring data sources and setting up data collections.

Three modules, namely:
  • air emissions accounts,
  • environmentally related taxes by economic activity and
  • economy-wide material flow accounts,

are most advanced with regular data collections, and already codified in law under Regulation (EU) 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts. The Regulation provides a legal framework for a harmonised collection of comparable data from the EU Member States. Moreover, it sets the foundation for further development of additional modules, with a view to adding them to this statistical law in the near future.

On 27 May 2014 a new Regulation (EU) No 538/2014 was published in the Official Journal of the EU amending Regulation (EU) No 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts by adding three additional modules covering environmental protection expenditure accounts, environmental goods and services accounts and physical energy flow accounts.

 

The Regulation is also part of the EU response to the international initiative to develop a system of environmental and economic accounts (SEEA), under the auspices of the United Nations, together with the European Commission (Eurostat), the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF.


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    Last update 02.12.2013