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Major drop in EU's greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, official data confirms

News Published 31 May 2021 Last modified 01 Jun 2021
1 min read
Photo: © Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash
Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union (EU) decreased by almost 4 % in 2019, according to latest official data, published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA). These data confirm the EEA’s preliminary estimates, published in October 2020. The large decline in emissions, achieved before the COVID-19 crisis, was mainly due to reduced coal use for power generation.

The official data, submitted on behalf of the EU to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), show that EU Member States managed to reduce collectively their emissions by 3.8 % from 2018 to 2019. This decrease brought EU emissions to 24.0 % below 1990 levels, not accounting for carbon dioxide removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities. When these removals are included, the overall reduction from 1990 to 2019 amounts to 25.9 %.

Almost 80 % of the net reduction in emissions achieved in 2019 took place in the heat and power sector, which is covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Increasing carbon prices and gas becoming relatively cheaper compared with coal led to a significant reduction in coal use, in favor of gas and renewable energy sources.

Emissions also decreased in other industrial sectors and residential buildings, the latter due to a warmer winter and lower demand for heating.

However, CO2 emissions from the transport sector continued their increasing trend in 2019. For road transport, the increase was mostly due to higher gasoline consumption in passenger cars.

During the past three decades, several factors have contributed to the EU’s emission reductions, including the strong increase in the use of renewable energy, a switch from coal to gas in electricity and heat production, improvements in energy efficiency and structural changes in European economies. The decarbonisation of the EU’s power sector has been the largest contributor to emission reductions since 1990.

 

Note to editors

The presented emission data refer to EU-27 and include international aviation emissions.

The first EEA estimates of 2020 greenhouse emissions in the EU will be available in the autumn of 2021.

The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 1 February 2020. Key provisions of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 (Climate Monitoring Mechanism) apply to the United Kingdom in respect of greenhouse gases emitted during 2019 and 2020, for the purpose of complying with EU commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

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