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Greenhouse gas emission trends

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 12 Dec 2011 Published 24 Oct 2012 Last modified 11 Sep 2015, 12:41 PM
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This content has been archived on 21 Nov 2014, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/greenhouse-gas-emission-trends-5/assessment-1 was published)
Indicator codes: CSI 010 , CLIM 050

Key messages

In 2010, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.4 % compared to 2009. This was due to the return to economic growth in many countries and a colder winter leading to an increased demand for heating. However, the increase in emissions was contained by a move from coal to natural gas and the sustained strong growth in renewable energy generation. This increase noted in 2010 follows a 7 % drop in 2009 (compared to 2008), largely due to the economic recession and, again, the increased production of renewable energy. 

With respect to 1990 levels, EU‑27 emissions were decreased by 15.4 % (Figure 1). 

At a sectoral level, emissions decreased in all main sectors except the transport one, where they increased considerably.

In the EU-15, 2010 GHG emissions increased by 2.1 % compared to 2009 – an increase of 78.5 Mt CO2 eq in absolute values. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 10.6 % below the 1990 level in 2010 or 11 % below the base-year level. CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production also decreased by 6.1% with respect to 1990. The European Union remains well on track to achieve its Kyoto Protocol target (an 8% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions compared to base-year level, to be achieved during the period from 2008 to 2012). A detailed assessment of progress towards Kyoto targets and 2020 targets in Europe is provided in EEA's 2012 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections.

What progress has been made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe?

Greenhouse gas emissions by EEA Country: Change 2009 – 2010

Note: Greenhouse gas emissions by EEA Country : Absolute change 2009 – 2010

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Greenhouse gas emissions in EEA-32 countries: Change 1990 - 2010

Note: Greenhouse gas emissions in EEA-32 countries: Absolute change 1990 - 2010

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2010 greenhouse gas emissions

In 2010, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding emission and removals from land-use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) were:

  •  4 721 Mt COeq. in the EU-27;
  •  3 798 Mt COeq. in the pre-2004 EU Member States (EU-15).

In 2010, the EU-15 accounted for 80.4 % of total EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 were Germany (19.8%), the United Kingdom (12.5 %), France (11.1 %), Italy (10.6 %), and Poland (8.5 %).

2009-2010 trends

Between 2009 and 2010, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding LULUCF:

  • increased by 2.4 % (14 Mt COeq.) in the EU-27;
  • increased by 2.1 % (35 Mt COeq.) in the EU-15.

In absolute terms, emissions were increased most in Germany (+24.7 Mt CO2 eq.), Poland (+19.1 Mt CO2 eq.) and United Kingdom (+19.7 Mt CO2 eq.), accounting for about 56% of total EU-27 net increase (Figure 2).

The energy sector seems to be the main contributor to this increase, mainly due to the recovery from the intense economic recession of the previous years and also due to the effect of harder weather circumstances. In the case of Germany, public electricity and heat production and manufacturing industries and construction have the higher increase in absolute values, whereas in Poland emissions from the residential sector and transport have also experienced an important rise. In the United Kingdom the increase of emissions in the residential sector is the most important one (in absolute values), followed by the public electricity and heat production sector.

At the opposite side, Spain (-10 Mt CO2 eq.), Greece (-6 Mt CO2 eq.) and Portugal (-4 Mt CO2 eq.) are the countries reporting the higher absolute emission reductions in 2010, a fact that depicts the deep economic recession that these countries still face in 2010. For all three countries the most intense reductions were noted in the energy industries and in fuel combustion.

At an EU level, the increase of the use of renewables was also a key driver, at least in most of the EU countries.

In relative terms, the largest increases were observed in Estonia (+ 25%), followed by Finland (+23%) and Sweden (+11 %) while in Greece, Portugal and Spain emissions have decreased by -5 %, -5% and -3% respectively.

With respect to other EEA-32 countries, Turkey, Norway and Switzerland have increased their emissions by 9%, 5% and 3% respectively, the biggest change in absolute numbers being the increase of 32 Mt CO2 eq. in Turkey. Liechtenstein and Iceland’s emissions are at about the same levels as in 2009.

1990-2010 trends

Between 1990 and 2010, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding LULUCF:

  • decreased by 15.4 % (862 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-27;
  • decreased by 10.6 % (452 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-15;
  • decreased by 10.9 % (641 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EEA-32.

The 1990-2010 trends in total EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions were dominated by developments in Germany (-310 Mt CO2 eq.), the United Kingdom (-174 Mt CO2 eq.) and Romania (-132 Mt CO2 eq.). Significant changes were also observed in Spain (+73 Mt CO2 eq.), Czech Republic (-57 Mt CO2 eq.) and Poland (-57 Mt CO2 eq.) (Figure 3).

In relative terms, emissions decreased strongly in the EU-27 between 1990 and 2000, mainly due to the introduction of market economies and the consequent restructuring or closure of heavily polluting and energy-intensive industries. The decrease has not been as strong in the EU-15 countries for the same period because of the economic development of southern European countries, accompanied by rising incomes, higher living standards and, consequently, higher energy demand.  However since 2000, the trends have been almost identical in the EU-15 and in the EU-27, reaching a maximum in 2004 and a minimum in 2009 directly connected to the effect of the strong economic recession in the whole of Europe.

In relative terms, between 1990 and 2010, emissions decreased most in Lithuania (-58 %), Latvia (-55 %), and Romania (-52 %) while emissions increased most in Cyprus (+68 %), Malta (+49 %) Spain (+26 %), and Portugal (+18 %).

In the other EEA member countries, the most significant trend was the +115 % increase in emissions from Turkey (+215 Mt CO2 eq.). In absolute terms, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have also increased their emissions by 6.3 Mt CO2 eq. in total. 

What are the emission changes by sector and by greenhouse gas?

Absolute change of GHG emissions by sector in the EU-27, 2009 - 2010 and total GHG emissions by sector in the EU-27, 2010

Note: Absolute change of GHG emissions by sector in the EU-27, 2009 - 2010 and total GHG emissions by sector in the EU-27, 2010

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Absolute change of GHG emissions by gas in the EU-27, 2009 - 2010 and total GHG emissions by gas in the EU-27, 2010

Note: Absolute change of GHG emissions by gas in the EU-27, 2009 - 2010 and total GHG emissions by gas in the EU-27, 2010

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Relative (%) change in emissions by sector in EU-27, 1990 -2010

Note: Relative (%) change in emissions by sector in EU-27, 1990 -2010

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Greenhouse gas emissions can be viewed by country, year, gas and sector on the EEA greenhouse gas data viewer.

In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions due to energy supply and use including transport represent about 80 % of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27, as well as in the EU-15. Emissions from  agriculture account for 9.8% of total emissions, followed by industrial processes (7.3%) and waste (3%) (Figure 4).

2009-2010 Trends in the EU-27: Overview by main sector and gas 

Energy supply and use (excluding transport)

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply and use increased by 3.92% in 2010, due to significant increases of CO2 emissions from the households and services sector and from manufacturing industries and construction.

  • The residential and commercial sector contributed most to higher emissions in the EU in 2010. The key reason for the 43 Mt increase in emissions was the cold winter in 2010, which increased demand for heating, particularly by households.
  • Emissions from manufacturing industries and construction increased by 41 Mt of CO2, mainly driven by the significant increase of the iron and steel sector (absolute increase of 33 Mt for emissions from combustion and processes).
  • Heat and electricity production remains the largest contributor to GHG emissions in the EU, accounting for 26 % of total GHG emissions in 2010. CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production increased by +1.2 % in 2010 (an increase of almost 14.5 Mt of CO2 emissions), driven by the significant increase in fuel use in the sector, part of which was caused by the increased demand for heating supplied via distributed systems from district heating and combined heat and power thermal stations. It should be noted however that gas use increased more than coal use while oil consumption fell, resulting in lower CO2 emissions per unit of fossil energy generated.
  • CH4 emissions from fugitive emissions decreased by 0.7 %, mainly due to the decline of coal mining.

For a more detailed analysis, see  ‘Why did greenhouse gas emissions increase in the EU in 2010? EEA analysis in brief’.



Transport accounts for 19.7% of total emissions in 2010. Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 0.5% in 2010, mainly due to CO2 emissions from road transport (which represents more than 94 % of domestic transport emissions).

  • Between 2009 and 2010, CO2 emissions from international aviation decreased by 0.1% and CO2 emissions from international navigation (maritime transport) by 5%. In absolute terms, total CO2 emissions from international bunkers decreased by 8.23 Mt in 2010.
  • N2O emissions have increased about 28% between 1990 and 2010 (an increase of about 2.3 Mt CO2 eq). N2O emissions from gasoline cars increased in the 1990s due to the implementation of the catalytic converter in the early Euro vehicles (mainly Euro 1), but decreased thereafter (for post Euro 2 vehicles). A further reduction in emissions was achieved due to the penetration of low and zero sulphur gasoline. On the other hand, N2O emissions from diesel cars increase with Euro technologies for both passenger cars and heavy duty vehicles (and in particular with the introduction of Euro V trucks). N2O emissions have increased by 0.3 Mt CO2 eq in 2010.


Industrial processes

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, N2O and fluorinated gases) increased by 4 % (13 Mt of CO2 eq) between 2009 and 2010.

  • CO2 emissions from cement production decreased by about 1.5 Mt.
  • N2O emissions from chemical industries decreased by 37 %, mainly due to specific measures at adipic acid production plants in Germany and France.
  • CO2 emissions from metal production have increased by approximately 12 Mt, mainly due to the increase in the production of iron and steel, as already mentioned in the Energy sector.
  • HFCs emissions from the consumption of F-gases (which are main substitute for ozone depleting CFCs that were gradually phased out in the 1990s) have increased by 5.6%, increasing the total emissions from industrial processes by 4.36 Mt CO2 eq. The use of HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment is the main contributor to this increase.


Agriculture and waste

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture fell by 22.3% in 2010 compared to 1990, following the general declining trend. In 2010, emissions fell mainly due to a corresponding decrease of 1.3% in enteric fermentation and manure management.

Greenhouse gas emissions from waste fell by 1.3 % in 2010 compared to 2009 (a corresponding decrease of 1.9 Mt CO2 eq), mainly due to the development of landfill gas recovery.

Overview by gas (Figure 5)

  • CO2 accounted for the largest absolute increase (118.6 Mt) and a relative change of +3.1% in emissions in 2010 due to the recovery from the economic regression and also due to the higher industrial activity in most Member States.
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from industrial processes were the other group of greenhouse gases that increased significantly in 2010 (+5.7%, corresponding to a net increase of 5.1 Mt CO2 eq.), continuing the long trend observed since 1990. The increase is consistent with both the general warmer climatic conditions in Europe and increased comfort standards (e.g. mobile air conditioning), as well as with the phasing out of ozone depleting CFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.
  • Emissions declined for nitrous oxide (N2O), which accounted for 7.2 % of total EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, and for methane (CH4), which accounted for 8.6 % of the total.

1990-2010 trends in the EU-27 

Between 1990 and 2010, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 decreased in all sectors except in the transport sector, where they increased significantly (+20 %, an increase of 155.4 Mt CO2 eq.). CO2 emissions from international aviation and navigation (which are not included here) increased by 90.3 % and 34.2 %, respectively (Figure 6). The largest absolute decrease was observed in emissions from manufacturing industries and construction and from energy production (about 276 Mt and 245 Mt CO2 eq. respectively).

Most of the emissions reductions occurred in the 1990s, largely a result of:

  • increasing efficiency in power and heating plants,
  • closure of heavy polluting and energy-intensive industries,
  • the economic restructuring in eastern Germany,
  • the liberalisation of the energy market and subsequent changes in the choice of fuel used in electricity production from oil and coal to gas in the United Kingdom,
  • significant reductions in nitrous oxide emissions in the chemical industry (adipic acid production) in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

After 1999, emissions rose again until 2004, due to increasing energy and transport demand. More solid and gaseous fuels were used for the production of public electricity and heat (whereas liquid fuels were used less). Higher transport volumes (freight and passengers) led to higher emissions from road transport, which is responsible for more than 90 % of domestic CO2 emissions from transport.

Since 2004 and up to 2008, final energy demand in the households sector and the tertiary sector in the EU‑27 has been decreasing, which has resulted in decreasing total emissions. The very abrupt decrease of emissions between 2008-2009 (relative change of -7%, resulting in an absolute reduction of about 364 Mt CO2 eq) is attributed to the effects of the economic recession, while the increase of about 111 Mt CO2 eq in the next year, namely 2010, is related to the economic recovery as well as to the colder winter, as already explained above.

    Indicator specification and metadata

    Indicator definition

    This indicator presents anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in Europe from 1990 onwards. It analyses the trends (total and by sector) in relation to the European Community and Member States Kyoto targets for the period 2008-2012.

    Definitions (from UNFCCC)

    Emissions: the release of greenhouse gases and/or their precursors into the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time.

    Greenhouse gases: those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and re-emit infrared radiation.

    Sink: any process, activity or mechanism which removes a greenhouse gas, an aerosol or a precursor of a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

    Source: any process or activity which releases a greenhouse gas, an aerosol or a precursor of a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

    Emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases are calculated according to the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (see Methodology), as agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.



    All the greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol (CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs). This does not include the greenhouse gases that are also ozone-depleting substances and which are controlled by the Montreal Protocol (see CSI 006).

    In order to be aggregated, non-CO2 gases are weighed by their respective global warming potential and presented in CO2-equivalent units.

    Emission sources

    The indicator provides information on emissions from the main anthropogenic greenhouse gas sources, distributed by main emitting sectors (according IPCC nomenclature):

    • energy supply and use (including energy industry, fugitive emissions, energy use by industry and by other sectors, excluding the transport sector);
    • transport;
    • industry (processes, i.e. not including emissions from fossil fuel combustion for energy use);
    • agriculture;
    • waste;
    • other (non-energy).

    Unless otherwise mentioned, the indicator does not cover emissions from international bunkers (international aviation and maritime transport), which are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol. In particular, these emissions are not taken into account in the total greenhouse gas emissions reported at national and EU levels.

    Emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) are not included in total greenhouse gas emissions.

    Geographical area

    The indicator covers all 27 Member States from the European Union. Some figures also include information concerning other EEA Member States.

    Period covered

    The indicator covers annual emissions since 1990.


    Greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in 'million tonnes CO2-equivalent' (Mt CO2-eq.)

    Policy context and targets

    Context description

    The present indicator CSI 010 aims to support the European Commission's annual assessment of progress in reducing emissions in the EU and the individual Member States to achieve the Kyoto Protocol targets under the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism (Council Decision 280/2004/EC concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community GHG emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol).


    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sets an ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations 'at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.' It also requires precise and regularly updated inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries. With a few exceptions, the 'base year' for tabulating greenhouse gas emissions has been set as 1990.

    The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC which sets binding targets for industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. (See next section).

    The European Community (EC), as a party to the UNFCCC, reports annually on the greenhouse gas emissions within the area covered by its Member States. The Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory and inventory report, officially submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat, is prepared on behalf of the European Commission (DG Environment) by the European Environment Agency's European Topic Centre for Air and Climate Change (ETC/ACC) supported by the Joint Research Centre and Eurostat.

    The legal basis of the compilation of the EC inventory is Council Decision No 280/2004/EC concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol. The purpose of this decision is to:

    1. monitor all anthropogenic GHG emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol in the Member States;
    2. evaluate progress towards meeting GHG reduction commitments under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol;
    3. implement the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol as regards national programmes, greenhouse gas inventories, national systems and registries of the Community and its Member States, and the relevant procedures under the Kyoto Protocol;
    4. ensure the timeliness, completeness, accuracy, consistency, comparability and transparency of reporting by the Community and its Member States to the UNFCCC Secretariat.


    Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU-15 has taken on a common commitment to reducing emissions by 8 % on average between 2008 and 2012, compared to base-year emissions.

    Within this overall target, differentiated emission limitation or reduction targets have been agreed for each of the 15 pre-2004 Member States under an EU accord known as the 'burden-sharing agreement'. These targets are set out in the Annex II to the Council Decision 2002/358/EC concerning the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC and the joint fulfilment of commitments thereunder.

    The EU-12 Member States (apart from Cyprus and Malta) have individual targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia have reduction targets of 8 % from the base year, while Hungary and Poland have reduction targets of 6 %.

    Of the additional EEA member countries, Norway and Iceland are allowed to increase emissions under the Kyoto Protocol by 1 % and 10 %, respectively, from their base-year emissions. Switzerland and Liechtenstein have reduction targets of 8 %. Turkey is a Party to the UNFCCC, but not to the Kyoto Protocol and therefore has no reduction target. Croatia, an EU candidate country which started accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, ratified the Kyoto Protocol in May 2007 and has a reduction target of 5 %.

    Base year

    Under the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gas emission level in the base year is the relevant starting point for tracking progress. For most EU Member States, the base year is 1990 for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), and 1995 for fluorinated gases (SF6, HFCs and PFCs). Five of the new Member States have base years or periods under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol that differ from 1990 for CO2, CH4 and N2O, which is possible for economies in transition.

    National Kyoto or burden-sharing targets (reduction from base-year levels)

    Kyoto Target 2008-2012





    Bulgaria [1]




    Czech Republic




    Denmark [2]












    Hungary [3]






















    Poland [4]




    Romania [5]




    Slovenia [6]








    United Kingdom


    EU-15 (pre-2004 EU Member States)


    [1] The base year for Bulgaria is 1988.

    [2] In Commission Decision 2006/944/EC determining the respective emission levels allocated to the Community and each of its Member States under the Kyoto Protocol, the respective emission levels were expressed in terms of tonnes of CO2-equivalent. In connection with Council Decision 2002/358/EC, the Council of Environment Ministers and the Commission have, in a joint statement, agreed to take into account inter alia the assumptions in Denmark's statement to the Council Conclusions of 16-17 June 1998 relating to base-year emissions in 2006. In 2006, it was decided to postpone a decision on this until after all Community and Member State initial reports have been reviewed under the Kyoto Protocol.

    The base year for Hungary is the average of 1985-1987.

    [4] The base year for Poland is 1988.

    [5] The base year for Romania is 1989.

    [6] The base year for Slovenia is 1986.

    Detailed information on base-year levels is available from EEA report on greenhouse gas emissions trends and projections in Europe.

    Related policy documents


    Methodology for indicator calculation

    The UNFCCC requires precise and regularly updated inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries, using comparable methodologies. To estimate anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, all countries must use the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories

    In order to be agregated into one single figure, emissions of the different individual gases are translated into CO2 equivalents, using global warming potentials (GWP) as provided in the IPCC guidelines. GWP are a measure of how much a given mass of greenhouse gas is estimated to contribute to global warming.


    Global warming potential (GWP)

    carbon dioxine 1
    methane 21
    nitrous oxide 310
    sulphur hexafluoride 23900

    HFCs and PFCs comprise a large number of different gases that have different GWPs. Countries report HFC and PFC in Mt CO2-equivalent.

    All total emissions exclude greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities.

    Methodology for gap filling

    The EC GHG inventory is compiled by using the inventory submissions of the EC Member States. If a Member State does not submit all data required for the compilation of the EC inventory, estimates for data missing for that Member State are made. In the following cases gap filling is made:

    • To complete specific years in the GHG inventory time-series for a specific Member State (for the most recent inventory year(s), for the base year or for some years of the time series from 1990 to the most recent year);
    • To complete individual source categories for individual Member States that did not estimate specific source categories for any year of the inventory time series. Gap filling methods are used for major gaps when it is highly certain that emissions from these source categories exist in the Member States concerned;
    • To provide complete background data tables for the European Community when some Member States only provided sectoral and summary tables. (In this case, the gap filling methods are used to further disaggregate the emission estimates provided by Member States.)
    • To enable the presentation of consistent trends for the EC.

    For data gaps in Member States’ inventory submissions, a gap-filling procedure is applied in accordance with the implementing provisions under Council Decision No 280/2004/EC for missing emission data. The methods used for gap filling include interpolation, extrapolation and clustering. These methods are consistent with the adjustment methods described in UNFCCC Adjustment Guidelines and in the IPCC GPG 2000.

    Methodology references

    No methodology references available.


    Methodology uncertainty

    Methodologies to estimate greenhouse gas emissions and removals

    Difference of methodologies between countries

    Since Member States use different national methodologies, national activity data or country-specificemission factors in accordance with IPCC and UNFCCC guidelines, these methodologies are reflected in the EC GHG inventory data. The EC believes that it is consistent with the UNFCCC reporting guidelines and the IPCC good practice guidelines to use different methodologies for one source category across the EC especially if this helps to reduce uncertainty and improve consistency of the emissions data provided that each methodology is consistent with the IPCC good practice guidelines.


    The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in the total GWP weighted emission estimates, for most European countries, is likely to be better than +/- 20%. While uncertainties in the estimates of the non-CO2 gases are larger than this, the dominance of CO2, with a much lower uncertainty than 20%, in the GWP emissions results in the overall uncertainty of 20%.

    Data sets uncertainty


    The EEA uses data officially submitted by EU Member States and other EEA countries which perform their own assessment into uncertainty of reported data. In accordance with UNFCCC guidelines, the EC and its Member States use the IPCC Good practice guidance and uncertainty management in national greenhouse gas inventories, which is consistent with the Revised 1996 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. The use of this good practice guidance by countries is expected to lead to higher quality inventories and more reliable estimates of the magnitude of absolute and trend uncertainties in reported GHG inventories.

    The annual EC GHG inventory report provides a section (1.7) on uncertainty evaluation. The results suggest that uncertainties at EU-15 level are between +/- 4% and 8% for total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions. N2O emissions of agriculture soils is the source contributing most to the overall uncertainty of the EC inventory.


    Total EU-27 and EU-15 GHG emission trends are likely to be more accurate than the individual absolute annual emission estimates, because the annual values are not independent of each other. The IPCC suggests that the uncertainty in total GHG emission trends is ~ 4 to 5%. The total GHG emission estimates are quite reliable and the limited number of interpolations used to build the indicator do not introduce much uncertainty at the EU level.

    Rationale uncertainty

    According to the latest scientific evidence available (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 'Climate Change 2007'):

    • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
    • Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Global greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004. Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.
    • There is high agreement and much evidence that with current climate change mitigation policies and related sustainable development practices, global GHG emissions will continue to grow over the next few decades.
    • Continued GHG emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.
    • Anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change.

    Words in bold represent calibrated expressions of uncertainty and confidence. Relevant terms are explained in the Box 'Treatment of uncertainty' in the Introduction of the AR4 Synthesis Report. In particular, a likelihood 'very likely' corresponds to a probability of occurence higher than 90 %. This uncertainty in specific outcomes is assessed using expert judgment and statistical analysis of a body of evidence (e.g. observations or model results).

    The high confidence in the responsibility of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions for the warming of the climate system reemphasizes the relevance of monitoring and assessing greenhouse gas emission trends in Europe.

    Data sources

    Generic metadata


    Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

    ghg emissions | eu ghg inventory | soer2010
    DPSIR: Pressure
    Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
    Indicator codes
    • CSI 010
    • CLIM 050
    Temporal coverage:
    Geographic coverage:
    Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, EEA Member Countries (EEA32), Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

    Contacts and ownership

    EEA Contact Info

    François Dejean


    EEA Management Plan

    2012 1.3.2 (note: EEA internal system)


    Frequency of updates

    Updates are scheduled twice per year
    European Environment Agency (EEA)
    Kongens Nytorv 6
    1050 Copenhagen K
    Phone: +45 3336 7100