Energy and non-energy related greenhouse gas emissions
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.
Are energy related greenhouse gas emissions decreasing?
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
Indicator specification and metadata
Annual emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6 in UNFCCC reporting format (In Mt = million tonnes) converted to their global warming potential (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 t CO2-equivalent). For CO2 only, the (national) totals do not include emissions from biomass burning or emissions or removals from land-use change and forestry (LUCF). The energy sector is responsible for energy-related emissions, such as those arising from fuel combustion activities and fugitive emissions from fuels. Fuel combustion activities include: energy industries, manufacturing industries and construction, transport, other sectors and other stationary or mobile emissions from fuel combustion. Fugitive emissions from fuels include: solid fuels and oil and natural gas. ’Energy production’ includes ‘Energy industries’ (i.e. public electricity and heat production, petroleum refining and the manufacture of solid fuels) and ‘Fugitive emissions’ (i.e. emissions from production, processing, transmission, storage and use of fuels, in particular coal-mining and gas production). ’Transport’ includes road transportation, national civil aviation, railways and navigation, and other non-road transportation. In accordance with UNFCCC and UNECE guidelines, emissions from international aviation and navigation are not included. ’Industry’ includes fossil fuel combustion (for heat and electricity) in manufacturing industries and construction (such as iron and steel, and non-ferrous metals). ‘Households’ includes fossil fuel combustion in households. ’Services sector’ includes fossil fuel combustion (for heat and electricity) from small commercial businesses, public institutions, agricultural businesses and military. Non-energy related emissions include ‘Industry’ (i.e. processes in manufacturing industries and construction without fossil fuel combustion including production and consumption of fluorinated gases), ‘Agriculture’ (i.e. domestic livestock (dairy and non-dairy cattle) keeping, in particular manure management and enteric fermentation and emissions from soils) ‘Waste’ (i.e. waste management facilities, in particular landfill sites and incineration plants and ‘Other non-energy’ (i.e. solvent and other product use).
Emission In Mt = million tonnes
Policy context and targets
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the pre-2004 Member States (EU-15) are committed to reducing their combined emissions of the greenhouse gases controlled by the Protocol to 8 % below the base year level over the period 2008–2012. This overall target has been translated into a specific legally binding target for each EU-15 Member State, based on its capacity to curb emissions (Council Decision 2002/358/EC). Each of the new Member States, excepting Cyprus and Malta, has an individual target under the Kyoto Protocol. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have reduction targets of 8 % from the base-year, while Hungary and Poland have reduction targets of 6 %. There is no joint Kyoto target for the EU-27. At a UN conference in August 2007 it was agreed that an emission reduction in the range of 25-40 % below 1990 levels is necessary to avoid the most catastrophic forecasts.
In preparation for a post-Kyoto international agreement, the European Commission has forth a range of proposals to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The proposals include a target for the EU-27 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % compared to 1990, rising to 30 % when new global climate agreement reached. The 20% target will be disaggregated into trading and non-trading sectors. Emissions covered by the EU ETS scheme are to be reduced by 21% from 2005 levels by 2020 and emissions not covered by the ETS (agriculture, buildings, transport and waste) are to be reduced by 10% from 2005 levels by 2020. Individual targets for each Member State have also been proposed.
In addition, the package of proposals includes:
- an extended target of 20% of all energy consumed to be generated through renewable sources by 2020, with individual targets for each Member State.
- a minimum target of 10% use of biofuels in transport by 2020
- a legal framework on carbon capture and storage and a Communication on the demonstration of carbon capture and storage
It is likely that by 2030, many options for abatement of non energy-related greenhouse gas emissions will have been already exploited, putting a greater burden on the energy sector to achieve reductions. Current policies will therefore need to be extended and enhanced and new measures will be required if long-term emission reductions and the required changes in energy production and consumption patterns (power plants, buildings, transport etc) are to be realised. Given the long lead-times in the energy sector, such changes will be determined by actions taken in the immediate future. Therefore, reducing future energy-related emissions requires additional policy action now.
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
Council Decision (2002/358/EC) of 25 April 2002
Council Decision (2002/358/EC) of 25 April 2002 concerning the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the joint fulfilment of commitments thereunder.
Council Directive 96/61/EC (IPPC)
Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC). Official Journal L 257.
Greenhouse gas monitoring mechanism
Decision No 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; adopted at COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997
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Methodology for indicator calculation
EEA dataviewer containing annual official data submission by EU Member States to UNFCCC and EU Monitoring mechanism. Compilation of emission estimates by Member States is based on combining sectoral activity data, calorific values and carbon emission factors. Recommended methodologies for emission data estimation are compiled in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2006), supplemented by the ‘Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories’ (IPCC, 2000) and UNFCCC Guidelines (UNFCCC, 2000).
The data has been weighted according to the following global warming potentials (GWP) for each greenhouse gas: CO2 = 1, CH4=21, N2O =310 and SF6=23900, to give total GWP emissions in Mt CO2 equivalent. HFCs and PFCs have a wide range of GWPs depending on the gas and emissions have been reported by the Member States as Mt CO2 equivalent. Greenhouse gas intensity of energy use: energy related greenhouse gas emissions from / gross inland energy consumption Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year/base year)(1 / number of years) –1] x 100
Methodology for gap filling
Where data is not available for EU Member States, the data gap filling procedure has been used as agreed under the Monitoring Mechanism (EEA. 2007a).
No methodology references available.
The IPCC (IPCC, 2000) suggests that the uncertainty in the total GWP-weighted emission estimates, for most European countries, is likely to be less than +/– 20 %. In 2007 uncertainty estimates were calculated for the EU-15 (EEA 2007a). The results suggest that the overall trend uncertainty of all EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions is estimated to be between 1 and 2 percentage points. Uncertainties at EU-15 level are between +/- 4 % and 8% for total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions. For energy related greenhouse gas emissions the results suggest uncertainties of +/- 1 % (stationary combustion), +/- 1 % (transport) and +/- 8 % (fugitive emissions). Uncertainties for specific gases and for specific sectors are also available at the EU-15 level. For the new Member States and some other EEA countries, uncertainties are assumed to be higher than for the EU-15 Member States because of data gaps. Uncertainties in trends are much lower than in absolute values. For more information see EEA 2007a. Indicator uncertainty (scenarios) Scenario analysis always includes many uncertainties and the results should thus be interpreted with care. • uncertainties related to future socioeconomic and other developments (e.g. GDP); • uncertainties in the underlying statistical and empirical data (e.g. on future technology costs and performance); • uncertainties in the representativeness of the indicator; • uncertainties in the dynamic behaviour of the energy system and its translation into models; • uncertainties in future fuel costs and the share of low carbon technologies in the future.
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
No uncertainty has been specified
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)
Energy (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- ENER 001
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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