Key messages:  Total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the chemical industry decreased by 9% between 2012 and 2021. However, since 2015 these emissions have remained relatively stable. In contrast, the chemical industry’s gross value added (GVA) increased by 23% since 2012. 

Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and gross value added (GVA) in the chemicals industry in the EU-27*, 2012-2021 

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Member States report final GHG inventory data annually according to Regulation (EU) 2018/1999

In 2021, total GHG emissions from the chemical industry amounted to 155,495 kilotonnes of emissions equivalent to CO2 emissions (kton CO2-eq), accounting for 5% of total net GHG emissions in the EU. GHG emissions decreased by 9% between 2012 and 2021, while the gross value added (GVA) of the chemical industry increased by 23% between 2012 and 2020. The decrease of GHG emissions was particularly pronounced from 2012 to 2015. Total GHG emissions from the chemical industry remained stable between 2015 and 2021. 

In 2021, the majority (67%) of GHG emissions from the chemical industry came from fuel combustion, while 33% were linked to industrial processes and product use. This last category has experienced the most significant decrease since 2012 (15%). In particular, nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions related to the production of nitric and adipic acid fell significantly due to implementation of abatement techniques. 

Further minimising GHG emissions will contribute to the transition of the chemical industry towards the production of Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) chemicals and materials, with cleaner production processes including lower carbon footprints. 

Please consult the relevant indicators and signals below for a more comprehensive overview on the topic.

SSbD is a framework applicable to chemicals and materials and established by the European Commission in the recent Commission Recommendation (EU) 2022/2510. It aims to: 

  • steer the innovation process towards the green and sustainable industrial transition; 

  • substitute or minimise the production and use of substances of concern, in line with and beyond existing and upcoming regulatory obligations; 

  • minimise the impact on health, climate and the environment during sourcing, production, use and end-of-life of chemicals, materials and products. 

Total greenhouse gas emissions from the chemical industry are obtained from the EEA GHG data viewer, adding the (Common Reporting Framework) (CRF) categories 1.A.2.c (fuel combustion-related GHG) and 2.B (industrial processes and product use related GHG). Data in the viewer are based on national GHG inventories reported to the EU according to Regulation (EU) 2018/1999, in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting requirements.  

The EU’s total GHG emissions under category 1.A.2.c include an estimate of Germany’s GHG emissions for this category, calculated by the EEA based on the reported GHG emissions under Directive 2003/87/EC

GHG emissions include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and are expressed as the sum in kilotonnes of emissions equivalent to CO2 emissions (kton CO2-eq). 

For the process-related GHG emissions, the following sub-categories are available:  

  • ammonia production; 

  • nitric acid production; 

  • adipic acid production; 

  • caprolactam, glyoxal and glyoxylic acid production; 

  • carbide production; 

  • titanium dioxide production; 

  • soda ash production; 

  • petrochemical and carbon black production; 

  • fluorochemical production; 

  • other. 

More information on Member States' GHG emissions, as included in the annual EU greenhouse gas inventory, can be found on the EEA GHG data viewer

Total GVA measures the value of chemicals, materials and products produced by the chemical industry. 

GVA data are retrieved from the Eurostat table NAIO_10_CP16 (use table at purchasers’ prices) and the NAC Rev. 2 activities 20 to 22 are selected to focus on data from the ‘manufacture of chemical, pharmaceutical, rubber and plastic products’. GVA data are not available for some Member States across all years; this concerns 10 countries, namely Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands. Data from these 10 Member States were excluded from all years for the GVA. The share of the average GVA for these countries over the years where data are available amounts to 13%, ranging from 0.01% to 10%, with the exception of about 15% for Ireland for the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations.  

This indicator is one of the recommended indicators from the European Commission’s study on key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the industrial transition towards the production of safe and sustainable chemicals. 

References and footnotes

  1. EU, 2018, Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action, amending Regulations (EC) No 663/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 94/22/EC, 98/70/EC, 2009/31/EC, 2009/73/EC, 2010/31/EU, 2012/27/EU and 2013/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 2009/119/EC and (EU) 2015/652 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Text with EEA relevance.) (OJ L 328, 21.12.2018, pp. 1-77).
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  2. EU, 2022, Commission Recommendation (EU) 2022/2510 of 8 December 2022 establishing a European assessment framework for ‘safe and sustainable by design’ chemicals and materials (OJ L 325, 20.12.2022, pp. 179–205).
  4. EU, 2003, Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a system for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Union and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC (Text with EEA relevance).