Indicator Assessment

Greenhouse gas emission trends

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-37-en
  Also known as: CSI 010 , CLIM 050
Published 03 Mar 2009 Last modified 11 May 2021
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According to first estimates by EEA for the year 2010, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.4 % compared to 2009 (with a margin of error of +/- 0.3 %). This was 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. EU‑27 emissions were 15.5 % below the 1990 level. This 2010 increase follows a 7 % drop in 2009 (compared to 2008), largely due to the economic recession and the growth of renewable energy generation. Between 1990 and 2010, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 decreased in all main emitting sectors except in the transport sector, where they increased considerably. In the EU-15, CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production also increased.

In the EU-15, estimated 2010 GHG emissions increased by 2.3 % (+/– 0.7) compared to 2009. This implies that EU‑15 greenhouse gas emissions were approximately 10.6 % below the 1990 level in 2010 (1) or 10.7 % below the base-year level. 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). 2010 emissions of all EU-12 Member States that have a Kyoto target were well below their Kyoto target, except in Slovenia.

A detailed assessment of progress towards Kyoto targets and 2020 targets in Europe is provided in EEA's 2011 report on Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections.

Annual emissions and five-year rolling average of EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions (1990-2006)

Note: The average greenhouse gas emission over five years is a rolling average of greenhouse gas emissions of the last five years

Data source:

Gaps between 2006 emissions and Kyoto targets, relative to base-year emissions

Note: Countries are sorted by regional grouping (EU-15, EU-12, other EEA countries and Croatia) and ranked by gap between their 2006 emissions and their Kyoto target (without use of Kyoto mechanisms).

Data source:

2006 greenhouse gas emissions

In 2006, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding emission and removals from land-use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) were:

  • 5 143 million tonnes CO2-equivalent (Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-27;
  • 4 151 Mt CO2-eq. in the pre-2004 EU Member States (EU-15);
  • 992 Mt CO2-eq. in the EU-12.

In 2006, the EU-15 accounted for 81 % of total EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27 were Germany (20 %), the United Kingdom (13 %), Italy (11 %), France (11 %) and Spain (8 %).

2005-2006 trends

Between 2005 and 2006, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding LULUCF:

  • decreased by by 0.3 % (14 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-27;
  • decreased by 0.8 % (35 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-15;
  • increased by 2.2 % (21 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-12.

In absolute terms, emissions were reduced most in France (-14 Mt CO2-eq.) and Italy (-10 Mt CO2-eq.). In France, a shift in the production of public electricity and heat from fossil thermal power stations to hydropower was one of the main reasons for the decrease in emissions. In addition, emissions from households and services, manufacturing industries and agricultural soils declined substantially. In Italy, emission reductions were mainly achieved by abatement techniques in the adipic acid production and by a shift from fossil fuels to biomass in the household sector. Warm weather conditions had an additional positive impact on emissions from this sector.

Emissions increased most in Poland (+14 Mt CO2-eq.) and Finland (+11 Mt CO2-eq.). In Poland, emissions increased in public electricity and heat production, households, limestone and dolomite use and in road transport. Finnish emission increases mainly occurred in CO2 from electricity and heat production due to an increase in electricity generation from fossil thermal power stations and a decrease in electricity generation from hydropower plants. In Finland total exports of electricity in 2006 were about 3 times higher than in 2005, whereas total imports decreased by 21 %. Other EU-15 countries which saw emissions increase between 2005 and 2006 are: Denmark and to a minor extent Luxembourg.

In relative terms, the largest decreases were observed in Portugal (-5 %) and Belgium (-4 %), while emissions in Finland and Denmark increased by 16 % and 11 %, respectively. Emissions from Iceland increased by 14 %.

1990-2006 trends

Between 1990 and 2006 (Figure 1), total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding LULUCF:

  • decreased by 7.7 % (429 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-27;
  • decreased by 2.2 % (93 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-15;
  • decreased by 25.3 % (337 Mt CO2-eq.) in the EU-12.

The 1990-2006 trends in total EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions were dominated by developments in Germany (-223 Mt CO2-eq. ), the United Kingdom (-116 Mt CO2-eq.) and Spain (+146 Mt CO2-eq.). Significant changes were also observed in Romania (-91 Mt CO2-eq.), Poland (-53 Mt CO2-eq.) and Italy (+51 Mt CO2-eq.).

In relative terms, emissions decreased strongly in the EU-12 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. However since 2000, the trends have been almost identical in the EU-15 and in the EU-12. Between 1990 and 2006, emissions decreased most in Latvia (-56 %), Estonia (-55 %) and Lithuania (-53 %), while emissions increased most in Cyprus (+66 %), Spain (+51 %), Malta (+45 %) and Portugal (+41 %).

In the other EEA member countries, the most significant trend was the +101 % increase in emissions from Turkey (+171 Mt CO2-eq.).

Comparison with Kyoto target (Figures 2 & 3)

In the EU-15, total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding LULUCF, decreased by 2.7 % (114 Mt CO2-eq.) between the Kyoto base year and 2006. Therefore in 2006, EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions stood well above the -8 % Kyoto target. The emissions of four EU-15 Member States (Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, and Greece) were lower than their respective burden-sharing targets. Significant reductions in relative terms need still to be made especially in Spain, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark, either by reducing domestic emissions or by making use of Kyoto mechanisms (see also CSI 011 and EEA report on Greenhouse gas emissions trends and projections in Europe).

Of the EU-12 Member States, Cyprus and Malta do not have a Kyoto target. The emissions of the other EU-12 Member States, except Slovenia, were well below their Kyoto target in 2006. The situation was similar in the EU candidate country Croatia.

2006 emissions of the other EEA member countries stood above these countries' respective Kyoto targets. Reductions will be needed either by domestic measures or by making use of Kyoto mechanisms.

Changes in EU-12 greenhouse gas emissions by sector, 1990-2006

Note: The categories Total emissions, Energy and Transport do not include emissions and removals from LULUCF (carbon sink activities) and emissions from international bunkers (international aviation and maritime transport).

Data source:

Share of EU-15 sectors and key sources in 1990 and 2006

Note: Emissions from international aviation and international maritime navigation, not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, are not included here

Data source:

Changes in EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions by sector, 1990-2006

Note: The categories Total emissions, Energy and Transport do not include emissions and removals from LULUCF (carbon sink activities) and emissions from international bunkers (international aviation and maritime transport).

Data source:

Changes in EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions by sector, 1990-2006

Note: The categories Total emissions, Energy and Transport do not include emissions and removals from LULUCF (carbon sink activities) and emissions from international bunkers (international aviation and maritime transport).

Data source:

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

Greenhouse gas emissions due to energy supply and use including transport represent 80 % of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-27, as well as in the EU-15 (Figure 4). Between 1990 and 2006, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions decreased in all sectors except in the transport sector, where they increased significantly (Figure 5).

2005-2006 trends in the EU-15

In absolute terms, by far the main contribution to emissions reductions between 2005 and 2006 in the EU-15 came from fossil fuel combustion by households and services, followed by petroleum refining, apidic acid and nitric acid production.

  • CO2 emissions from households and services decreased by 2.9 % (-18.8 million tonnes). One important reason for the decrease were warmer weather conditions. The number of heating degree days decreased by 3.3 % between 2005 and 2006. Important decreases in CO2 emissions from households and services were reported by France, Italy and the United Kingdom, while Germany reported substantial increases.
  • CO2 emissions from petroleum refining decreased by 4.5 % (5.5 million tonnes) mainly in Italy and the United Kingdom.
  • N2O emissions from nitric acid production decreased by 16.3% (5.4 million tonnes) mainly in Germany due to a decreased production rate.
  • N2O emissions from adipic acid production decreased by 43.6 % (-5.1 million tonnes) mainly due to abatement techniques in Italy.

In contrast, substantial increases occurred in public electricity and heat production and in refrigeration and air conditioning.

CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production increased by 0.6 % (6.1 million tonnes). Emissions increased mainly in Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom. In Denmark and Finland, this was mainly due to increased electricity production in coal-fired powerstations and decreased net imports of electricity. In Finland, reduced electricity production from hydropower was another reason for the emission increase. In the United Kingdom, the increase in CO2 emissions was mainly caused by a fuel shift from gas to coal. HFC emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning (+2.9 million tonnes or +8.1 %) increased mainly in France and Germany.

1990-2006 trends in the EU-15 (Figure 6)

Between 1990 and 2006, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-15 decreased in all sectors except in the transport sector, where they increased significantly (+26 %). CO2 emissions from international aviation and navigation (which are not included here) increased by 103 % and 76 %, respectively. The largest relative decrease was observed in emissions from the waste sector. Most of the emissions reductions occurred in the 1990s, largely a result of:

  • increasing efficiency in power and heating plants,
  • 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 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. The use of diesel oil increased by 22 % while the use of gasoline decreased by 13 %. Between 2004 and 2006 greenhouse gas emissions from transport were constant.

Energy supply and use (excluding transport)

Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 4 %, due to a significant decrease of CO2 emissions from manufacturing industries and construction.

  • CO2 emissions from manufacturing industries and construction decreased by 12 %, mainly due to efficiency improvements and structural changes in Germany after reunification. After an increase observed between 2002 and 2004, emissions declined again.
  • CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production increased by +7 %, driven by increasing electricity production in thermal power plants (+41 %). After a decrease of emissions between 2003 and 2005, they increase again in 2006 to the 2004 level (+0.6 % compared to 2005).
  • CH4 emissions from fugitive emissions decreased by 56 %, mainly due to the decline of coal mining.
  • CO2 emissions from households decreased by 1 %, while the number of dwellings increased by 19 %.

Decoupling of greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption has been observed in all Member States, although there are large differences between Member States.


Greenhouse gas emissions (domestic transport) increased by 26%, mainly due to CO2 emissions from road transport (which represents more than 90 % of domestic transport emissions). After a decrease in 2005, which was mainly attributed to Germany, CO2 emissions from road transport increased again in 2006 (+0.3 %). However, Germany's emissions keep decreasing since 1999 due to an increased share of diesel-powered cars, increasing fuel prices (including effects of the eco-tax) and purchase of fuel outside Germany.

  • CO2 emissions from international aviation grew by 102 % and CO2 emissions from international navigation (maritime transport) grew by 60 %. These emissions grew faster than in all other transport modes.
  • N2O emissions more than doubled between 1990 and 2006. 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. As most cars are already equipped with catalytic converters, this strong growth is expected to stop soon.

Industrial processes

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 , N2O and fluorinated gases) were reduced by 12 %.

  • CO2 emissions from cement production increased by 6 %.
  • N2O emissions from chemical industries decreased by 64 %, mainly due to specific measures at adipic acid production plants in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and, only in 2006 in Italy.

Large increases mainly as the result of 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.

HFC emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning increased by a factor of more than 400.

Agriculture and waste

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture fell by 11 %. In particular, N2O emissions from agricultural soils fell by 15 %, due to a decline in fertiliser and manure use.

Greenhouse gas emissions from waste fell by 39 %, mainly due to the development of landfill gas recovery.

1990-2006 trends in the EU-12 (Figure 7)

Between 1990 and 2006, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-12 have been reduced in all the main sectors responsible for greenhouse gas emissions except for transport, where emissions increased by 41 %.

Transport emissions decreased by 13 % between 1990 and 1992, but increased thereafter. EU-12 Member States seem to reproduce the experience of Ireland, Portugal and Spain: starting from a relatively low transport level, all these countries experienced high economic growth which resulted in strong growth in transport and related greenhouse gas emissions.

Supporting information

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

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 010
  • CLIM 050
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled twice per year
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage