EU greenhouse gas emissions estimated to increase in 2010, but long-term decrease expected to continue
Many different policies have played an active role in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside renewable energy or energy efficiency, efforts to reduce water pollution from agriculture also led to emission reductions. This experience shows we can reduce emissions further if we consider the climate impacts of various policies more systematically.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director
The latest analysis of greenhouse gas trends in the EU was published by the EEA today in three reports which together analyse emissions levels since 1990 and look forward to the EU's greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2020 and beyond. They also cover progress towards Kyoto Protocol targets, early estimates for 2010 emissions levels and an analysis of drivers of emissions since 1990. Overall, EU emissions declined by 15.5 %.
EU-15 emissions were 10.7 % below base year levels, still well below its collective 8 % reduction target for the 2008–2012 period. However, of the 15 EU Member States with a common commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (the 'EU-15'), Austria, Italy and Luxembourg were still lagging behind their Kyoto Protocol targets at the end of 2010.
Looking ahead to 2020, EU Member States will have to implement planned measures to achieve the Union’s unilateral 20 % reduction commitment, itself a precursor to the much deeper emission cuts needed in the long run to build a low-carbon economy.
"Many different policies have played an active role in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions", Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said. "Alongside renewable energy or energy efficiency, efforts to reduce water pollution from agriculture also led to emission reductions. This experience shows we can reduce emissions further if we consider the climate impacts of various policies more systematically."
First estimates for 2010 show EU greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.4 % compared to 2009 (with a margin of error of +/- 0.3 %), due to the return to economic growth in many countries and a colder winter leading to an increased heating demand. However, the increase in emissions was contained by a move from coal to natural gas and the sustained strong growth in renewable energy generation.
In the EU-15, emissions were 10.7 % below base year levels (1990 in most cases), which is well beyond the collective 8 % reduction target. Countries which are not on track towards their target (Austria, Italy and Luxembourg) should make more efforts to ensure compliance, either by further reducing emissions or by relying more on the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms.
EEA member and cooperating countries that are not part of the EU and agreed to a Kyoto target were on track by the end of 2009, apart from Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The latter has already decided to increase its use of flexible mechanisms to comply with its target.
Measures in sectors not covered by the EU ETS, for example in the transport, residential or waste sectors, will be of particular importance for meeting national targets for 2020 set under the EU's 2009 climate and energy package.
EEA's trend analysis shows that greenhouse gas emissions have been strongly influenced by economic development in the past two decades. However, recent trends are also showing signs of the positive impacts of EU policies on its emission trends, according to the EEA analysis.
Notes to the editor
The three reports published today by the EEA provide a comprehensive picture on the past and future developments of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe:
The EEA technical report "Approximated EU GHG inventory: Early estimates for 2010" presents the first figures on 2010 greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, following the publication of consolidated 2009 emission data in June. Final 2010 data will be available in May 2012, with the submission of the EU greenhouse gas inventory report to the UNFCCC.
The EEA report "Tracking progress towards Kyoto protocol and 2020 targets in Europe" is tracking the progress already achieved or expected by European countries towards greenhouse gas emission targets. The EEA analysis underpins the European Commission's own report on this issue, also published today.
The EEA report " Greenhouse gas emissions in Europe: a retrospective trend analysis for the period 1990–2008" presents an overview of drivers behind EU greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, with a particular focus on the influence of policies at EU level.
Background on EU emission reduction commitments
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU-15 has a common commitment to reduce emissions on average by 8 % between 2008 and 2012 compared to emissions in the 'base year' (mostly 1990). All of the EU-12 countries except Cyprus and Malta have national emission targets under Kyoto but the EU-27 does not have a common target under the Protocol and therefore the EU-27 does not have an applicable base year against which to compare emission changes. Emission changes compared to 1990 are relevant for the EU-27 as it has made a commitment to achieve at least a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 (or even 30 %, if the conditions are right). This target is also one of the headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.
About the European Environment Agency (EEA)
The EEA is based in Copenhagen. The Agency aims to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe’s environment by providing timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policymakers and the public.
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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