New estimates confirm the declining trend in EU greenhouse gas emissions

News Published 31 Aug 2009 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
2 min read
Photo: © EEA
New European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates indicate that EU greenhouse gas emissions decreased in 2008 for the fourth consecutive year. Compared to the 2007 official emissions published earlier this year, the annual reduction is estimated to be about 1.3 % for the EU-15 and 1.5 % for the EU-27. Based on these estimates, the greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 stand approximately 6.2 % below the Kyoto base-year emissions for the EU-15, and 10.7 % below the 1990 level for the EU-27.

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, where total EU-27 emissions decreased by 3.9 % between 2007 and 2008.

This is the first time that EEA has produced EU-wide estimates of total greenhouse gas emissions just months after the year in question. The EEA estimates do not take into account the effects of changes in land use. They are based on the publicly available verified EU ETS emissions for 2008 and other national and European sources, available as of mid-July 2009. The detailed EEA methodology will be published in the coming weeks.

These 2008 emission estimates will be used to better track progress towards EU targets in the annual EEA report on greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe, which will be published later this year.

The official 2008 greenhouse gas emissions for the EU will be available in June 2010, when the EEA publishes the EU Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2008 and Inventory Report 2010, to be submitted to the UNFCCC.

GHG emissions


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'. The base-year emissions for the EU-15 have been fixed to 4 265.5 million tonnes CO2‑equivalent.

Unlike the EU-15, the EU-27 does not have a common target under the Kyoto 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 applicable to the EU-27 as it has made a unilateral commitment to achieve at least a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990.






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