Greenhouse gas emission trends (CSI 010/CLIM 050) - Assessment published Nov 2005
Climate change (Primary topic)
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
- CSI 010
- CLIM 050
Key policy question: What progress has been made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe?
Total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 were 1.7 % below base year levels. Increases in carbon dioxide emissions were offset by reductions in nitrous oxide, methane and fluorinated gas emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased whereas emissions from manufacturing industry decreased.
Total EU-15 GHG emissions (including Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms) in 2003 were 1.9 index points above the hypothetical linear EU target path. Many EU-15 Member States were not on track to meet their burden-sharing targets. Total GHG emissions in the new Member States decreased considerably (by 32.2 %) between the aggregate base year and 2003, due mainly to the economic restructuring transition process towards market economies. Most new EU Member States are on track to meet their Kyoto targets.
Distance to target for the EU-15 in 2003 (EU Kyoto Protocol and EU Member State burden-sharing targets)
Development of the EU-10 greenhouse gas emissions from base year to 2003
Development of EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions from base year to 2003 and distance to the (hypothetical) linear EU Kyoto target path (excluding flexible mechanisms)
- In 2003, four EU-15 Member States (France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom) were below their burden sharing target paths excluding Kyoto Mechanisms. Luxembourg and the Netherlands were below their burden sharing target paths including Kyoto Mechanisms. Nine Member States were above their burden-sharing target paths: Greece and Portugal (excluding Kyoto Mechanisms), Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain (including Kyoto Mechanisms). Compared to 2002 Austria and Finland departed the most from their target path due to increases in electricity and heat production.
- The favourable picture for the EU-15 as a whole has been determined largely by considerable emissions cuts in Germany and the UK, the EU's two biggest emitters, which together account for about 40% of total EU-15 GHG emissions. The 1990 to 2003 reductions amounted to 18.5% in Germany and 13.3% in the UK.
- Italy and France, the third and fourth largest emitters, increased (11.6 %) and decreased (-1.9 %) their emissions between 1990 and 2003. Emissions in Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have increased by more than 20% since 1990.
Specific policy question: What are the emission changes by sector and by greenhouse gas?
Change in EU-10 emissions of greenhouse gases by sector and gas 1990-2003
Change in EU-15 emissions of greenhouse gases by sector and gas 1990-2003
EU-15 GHG emissions have shown a small decrease between base year and 2003 of 1.7%, despite increases in GDP.
Sources and sectors with increasing emissions:
- Transport CO2 emissions (with 20% of total EU-15 GHG emissions) increased by 23% due to road transport growth in almost all EU-15 Member States. Emissions of N2O from transport increased by more than 100%. The reason is mainly that catalytic converters, which reduce cars' exhaust emissions of certain air pollutants but produce N2O as a by-product, have become standard equipment.
- CO2 emissions from energy industries increased by 3.3% due to increasing fossil fuel consumption in public electricity and heat plants. Most Member States had increases between 1990 and 2003, whereas the large Member States Germany and the United Kingdom reduced their emissions by 12% and 10%, respectively. The most important reason for Germany were efficiency improvements in coal-fired power plants and for the United Kingdom it was the fuel switch from coal to gas in power production.
Sources and sectors with decreasing emissions:
- Reductions were achieved especially in CO2 emissions from manufacturing industries and construction (-11 %), mainly due to efficiency improvements and structural change in Germany after reunification.
- CH4 emissions from fugitive emissions decreased the most (-52 %, mainly due to the decline of coal mining), followed by the waste sector (-34 %, mainly due to reducing the amount of untreated biodegradable waste in landfills and installing landfill gas recovery).
- N2O emissions from industrial processes decreased by 56 % mainly due to specific measures at adipic acid production plants in the UK, Germany and France. Also N2O emissions from agricultural soils fell by 11% between 1990 and 2003, due to a decline in fertiliser and manure use.
- HFC, PFC and SF6 emissions from industrial processes, which account for 1.6% of GHG emissions, decreased by 4 %. Large increases mainly as the result of the expanding use of HFCs as a substitute for ozone-depleting CFCs that were gradually phased out in the 1990s were offset by decreases of emissions from the production of halocarbons and SF6.
In new Member States, CO2 is the most important GHG (82.7% of total emissions) and it was reduced by 31.7 % between 1990 and 2003. Second is CH4 (share 9.8 %, decrease 40 %) and third is N2O (share 7.1 %, decrease 28 %). Compared to the base year, emissions of all of these gases decreased significantly. The share of F-gases is 0.4 %. These emissions have been increasing since 1990 (+74 %), but there are still countries which do not report F-gases.
National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism
provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) , United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoFrançois Dejean
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
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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