Energy and non-energy related greenhouse gas emissions (ENER 001) - Assessment published Aug 2011
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- ENER 001
Key policy question: Are energy related greenhouse gas emissions decreasing?
EU emissions of greenhouse gases (Kyoto gases) declined
for the third consecutive year in 2008. The combination of high coal
and carbon prices accompanied by a drop in natural gas prices in 2008
induced heat and electricity producers to replace more polluting coal by
gas and as a result, reduce their GHG emissions. The use of biomass and
other renewable sources (wind and hydroelectric power) has also
increased significantly in 2008, attributing further to the reduction in
GHG emissions. The economic recession, which started during the second
half of the 2008, also contributed to emission reductions from several
sectors including the manufacturing and construction, and road transport
sectors. Road transport emissions were also affected by high oil
prices, the continued decline in gasoline consumption and a reversal of
the upward trend in diesel sales.
Total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 were 11.3 % below 1990 in 2008 — a net reduction of 627 million tonnes of CO2 eq., of which 99 million took place in 2008 . In 2008, the EU-15 stood 6.9% below its Kyoto Protocol base year levels. Preliminary EEA estimates suggest emissions in the EU fell further in 2009 due to lower the economic downturn and CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the energy, industry and transport sectors.
Changes (%) in greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto gases) and sinks by source category in the EU, 1990-2008 (weighted by global warming potentials from IPCC’s SAR)
Note: International bunkers are international transport emissions (Memo items: international aviation and international maritime transport) and are shown in the chart because they are the fastest growing source of emissions in the EU. They are however not included in the national totals reported as part of the national greenhouse gas inventories under the UNFCCC. The sector LULUCF (Land use, land use change and forestry) is not included in the national totals under the UNFCCC either. LULUCF in the EU is a net carbon sink, resulting from higher removals by sinks than emissions from sources. A positive change in LULUCF means a reduction in emissions (i.e. a removal of emissions).
EEA. National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism. Available at:
Greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto gases) by sector (%) in EU-27, 2008
Note: Annual emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6 in the UNFCCC reporting format are converted to their global warming potential GWP (100 year time horizon) for addition and comparison with the Kyoto Protocol targets: 1 t CH4 = 21 t CO2-equivalent, 1 t N2O = 310 t CO2-equivalent, 1 t SF6 = 23 900 t CO2-equivalent. HFCs and PFCs have a wide range of GWPs depending on the gas and emissions are already reported in tonnes CO2-equivalent. International transport emissions (Memo items: international aviation and international maritime transport) are shown in the chart because they are the fastest growing source of emissions in the EU. They are however not included in the national totals reported as part of the national greenhouse gas inventories under the UNFCCC.
EEA. National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism. Available at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/national-emissions-reported-to-the-unfccc-and-to-the-eu-greenhouse-gas-monitoring-mechanism-5
Greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto gases) per country (combustion and non-combustion emissions), 2008
Note: Greenhouse gas emissions (Kyoto gases) per country split between combustion and non-combustion emissions, 2008
EEA. National emissions reported to the UNFCCC and to the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism. Available at:http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/national-emissions-reported-to-the-unfccc-and-to-the-eu-greenhouse-gas-monitoring-mechanism-5
The EU-27 reduced ‘Kyoto’ greenhouse gas emissions by 99 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2008 compared to 2007. Since 1990, EU-27 emissions have fallen by 627 million tonnes (13.3% - see Figure 1), almost half of which is from Germany alone. Spain has increased its emissions by 121 million tonnes (42% increase) – by and large as a result of a doubling in electricity and heat production and almost doubling in road transportation, mostly diesel. However, between 2007 and 2008, one third of the of the net EU-27 reduction was achieved by Spain due to a substantial replacement of coal by natural gas for electricity generation complemented by an increase in renewable (wind and photovoltaic) and a sharp decline in gasoline consumption in road transport.
The economic downturn had a significant impacted on the emissions reductions across all sectors, most importantly the Industrial processes and Energy Industries sectors in the period between 2007 and 2008. Overall, Industrial processes and Energy Industries contributed 8% and 29.1% respectively to the overall EU27 GHG emission (in CO2 equiv.) in 2008 (see Figure 2). However, these sectors are one of the main contributors to the net decline in CO2 emissions with a reduction of 124 and 79 million tonnes of CO2 eq respectively in the EU-27 between 2007 and 2008. They are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas and are affected by variables such as climatic conditions, fuel prices and the existence of district heating.
Emissions in the household sector increased by 8% between 2007 and 2008 primarily due to a very cold winter across Europe and the refilling of the fuel stock. The latter was avoided in 2007 due to high fuel prices. Non road transport emissions continue to increase. The fastest growing transport modes in terms of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 have been international aviation and international maritime transport (international bunkers in Figure 1). Together, the two sectors currently account for about 5.9 % of total greenhouse gas emissions in EU-27 (see Figure 2). They are currently reported as Memo items and therefore not included in the national totals under the current UNFCCC reporting.
Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions (energy combustion and fugitive emissions from fuels) currently accounts for 77 % of total emissions in the EU-27, with similar proportions seen across all EEA-32 countries (see Figures 2 and 3). Carbon dioxide is by far the most significant energy-related greenhouse gas, with a share of about 97 %. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are only a small fraction of total energy-related emissions (2.1 % and 1.0 %, respectively). In the EEA-32 there has been a decrease of 3.1 % and 26.14 % for carbon dioxide and methane emissions, respectively, in 2008 compared with 1990. In contrast, emissions of fluorinated gases have increased by 35.5 %. Most methane emissions arise from fugitive emissions from the extraction, production and distribution of coal fuels and managed waste disposal on land, whilst the vast majority of emissions of fluorinated gases are from metals production and consumption of Halocarbons and SF6 as they are used in producing cooling devices such as air conditioning and refrigeration.
The latest EEA estimates indicate that EU greenhouse gas emissions decreased in 2008 for the fourth consecutive year. The vast majority of the decline in emissions in 2008 was due to lower CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the energy, industry and transport sectors. The 2008 emission reductions reflect the effects of the global economic recession, which began in 2008, which resulted in reduced industrial output and reduced energy consumption by industry, and correspondingly reduced freight transport. The reductions are also apparent in the verified emissions from EU ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) for 2008 http://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/new-estimates-confirm-the-declining-trend-in-eu-greenhouse-gas-emissions
 Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2009, EEA Report No 9/2009
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 InfoAnca-Diana Barbu
EEA Management Plan2010 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)
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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