EN01 Energy and non energy-related greenhouse gas emissions
Assessment made on 01 Apr 2007
ClassificationEnergy (Primary theme)
DPSIR: Driving force
- ENER 001
Policy issue: Is the use and production of energy having a decreasing impact on the environment?
There is growing evidence that global emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global temperatures to increase, resulting in climate change. More than 80 % of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-25 are caused by energy production, energy use by the industry, services and households, and transport. Therefore, while efforts to reduce or limit the effects of climate change are focused on limiting the emissions of all greenhouse gases, particular attention is being paid to reducing emissions arising from energy production and consumption:
- Under the Kyoto Protocol, the pre-2004 EU-15 Member States agreed to reduce their total GHG emissions by 8 % from 19901 levels by 2008-2012 (with differentiated national emission targets), while new Member States have individual targets2.
- The EU Environment Council concluded in March 2005 that developed countries should consider reduction pathways in the order of 15-30 % by 2020 and 60-80 % by 2050 compared to 1990.
This indicator shows past and projected trends in energy and non-energy related greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy production and consumption are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-25, accounting for just over 80 % of the total. Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-25 decreased by 1.6 % between 1990 and 2004. This was much less than the 15.8 % reduction observed for non-energy related emissions, which resulted in total GHG emissions being 4.8 % below 1990 levels. Between 2003 and 2004 energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-25 rose by 0.1%, while they increased by 2.1 % between 2002 and 2003 mainly due to increases in thermal power production (see EN27, EN16).
Examining energy-related carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions separately shows marked differences in their shares trends:
- Carbon dioxide is by far the most significant energy-related greenhouse gas, with a share of 96.4 %. In the EU-25, energy related emissions of carbon dioxide decreased 0.8 % over the period 1990 and 2004, with most EU-15 Member States seeing a rise and most new Member States a decrease in emissions.
- Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are only a small fraction of total energy-related emissions (2.1 % and 1.5 %, respectively). N2O emissions increased by 31.8 %, while methane emissions decreased by 38.8 %. More than 80 % of methane emissions arise from fugitive emissions from the extraction, production and distribution of fossil fuels.
The reductions in energy-related emissions since 1990 were helped by structural changes in the economies of the new Member States in central and eastern Europe in the early 1990s, combined with reductions within Germany due to economic restructuring in its new Länder and in the United Kingdom due to a switch from coal to gas (see EN27 and EN26). In addition, a range of specific policies and measures contributed to emission reductions in a number of EU Member States. However, the reductions achieved by the UK and Germany were partly offset by increased emissions in other Member States, like Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.
Energy-related CO2 emissions from industry (manufacturing and construction) fell by 14.8 % between 1990 and 2004. This was predominantly due to reduced emissions from this sector in the new Member States (-36.6 %) and in Germany (-35.0 %).
CO2 emissions from energy production (including fugitive emissions) decreased by 3.3 % between 1990 and 2004, with some new Member States, the United Kingdom and Germany showing large decreases in absolute terms in their emissions, largely due to fuel switching and the introduction of more energy-efficient technologies, such as combined cycle gas turbines.
Greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the EU-25 increased by almost 26 % between 1990 and 2004 as a result of a continuous increase in road transport demand (in particular freight), triggered by growing trade volumes and the sector's total reliance on fossil fuels. CO2 emissions from transport increased in all EU-25 Member States, except Estonia and Lithuania. An increase higher than 80 % is reported by Luxembourg, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Austria. The continued growth in the transport sector presents a problem for most Member States in terms of meeting their targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions from households and services sectors decreased between 1990 and 2004 by 4.0 % and 10.8 %, respectively. Emissions are closely linked to outdoor temperature. Important factors influencing the emissions from this source are fuel switching from oil and coal to natural gas in space heating in the new German Länder following reunification, increased energy efficiency in buildings, and increased use of district heating particularly in the Northern countries. Services are one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy and could present a challenge for limiting CO2 emissions in the future: greenhouse gas emissions of this sector increased by 4.3% between 2000 and 2004.
In the EU-15, overall energy related and non-energy related emissions decreased by 0.6 % between 1990 and 2004, whereas energy-related emissions increased by 3.8 % and non-energy related emissions decreased by 14.8 %. As analysed and reported in the EEA report 'Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections 2006' (EEA, 2006b), on the basis of their emissions in 2004 and 2010 projections, two Member States (Sweden and the United Kingdom) were on track to achieve their burden-sharing targets in 2010 using only existing domestic policies and measures. Six more countries anticipate to exceed (Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) or meet (France, Germany, Greece) their commitment targets by implementing additional measures and/or using Kyoto mechanisms and/or using carbon sinks. Seven EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Italy and Portugal) project that they will miss their target despite the implementation of additional measures or the use of Kyoto mechanisms or carbon sinks.
Greenhouse gas emissions have declined substantially more in almost all new Member States. In 2004, energy-related emissions were more than 23.6 % below 1990 emissions, mainly due to the introduction of market economies and the consequent restructuring or closure of heavily polluting and energy-intensive industries. Transport represents the most rapidly growing source of emissions in these countries. All new Member States were on track to meet their individual Kyoto targets (using existing domestic policies and measures) of 8 % (Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia) and 6 % (Hungary and Poland) on the basis of their emissions in 2004. Cyprus and Malta do not have Kyoto targets.
National projections4 show that in the EU-15, existing measures could bring greenhouse gases emissions 0.6 % below base-year levels by 2010. Including the reductions that Member States forecast they will achieve through additional measures and through the use of Kyoto mechanisms, projected emissions in 2010 are projected to be 7.2 % below base-year emissions in the EU-15. With the additional consideration of carbon sinks, the EU-15 emissions are projected to be 8.0 % below base-year emissions.
Seven new Member States are projected to meet or even over-comply with their Kyoto targets by the use of existing domestic policies and measures. Slovenia was also on track and projects that it will meet its Kyoto target with additional policies and measures and by including CO2 removals from land-use change and forestry. However, in most new Member States, emissions are projected to increase between 2004 and 2010 (EEA, 2006b).
Those existing policies and measures that are currently projected to help most in reducing energy-related emissions include:
- promotion of renewable energy (including electricity from renewable sources, see EN29 and EN30);
- promotion of combined heat and power (CHP, see EN20);
- improvements in the energy performance of buildings;
- increased energy efficiency in large industrial installations;
- promotion of energy-efficient appliances (see EN16 and 21);
- promotion of alternative fuels in transport (in particular biofuels);
- reduction of the average carbon dioxide emissions of new passenger cars;
- taxation of energy products and electricity.
The new EU emissions trading scheme has created a market for carbon dioxide allowances and aims to ensure that emissions reductions can be made where it is most economically efficient.
Nevertheless, in a long-term perspective, baseline projections for the EU-25 beyond 2010 indicate that energy-related CO2 emissions may start rising again unless further action is taken. According to PRIMES projections5, by 2030, energy-related CO2 emissions could reach a level almost 5% above 1990 levels, with a 38% increase in emissions from transport. Projections for the EU-15 are similar to those for the EU-25 as a whole. In the EU-10, CO2 emissions transport are projected to be 94% above 1990 levels by 2030, while significant reductions are predicted in the energy production, industry and household sectors.
The projections for overall greenhouse gas emissions are more stable over time (Fig. 1), as the increase in CO2 emissions is projected to be partially negated by large decreases in methane and N2O emissions. However, it should be noted that fluorinated gas emissions are projected to triple between 1990 and 2030.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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