Sharpest decrease of the decade in EU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, before impacts of COVID-19

News Published 17 Sep 2020 Last modified 23 Nov 2020
2 min read
Photo: © Mariana Proença on Unsplash
The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) preliminary data on the European Union’s (EU) greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 show close to a 4 % decrease, compared with 2018. The only time EU emissions decreased more since 1990 was during to the economic crisis in 2009. In addition, new EEA data for 2019 show that EU stays on track to end the use of chemicals harming the ozone layer.

The EEA’s approximated greenhouse gas inventory shows that the EU’s total emissions decreased by close to 4 % in 2019, compared with 2018. This reduction puts the EU emissions approximately 24 % below 1990 levels (26 % if the United Kingdom is included). EU emissions have remained consistently below the 20 % reduction target for 2020 since 2014.

The downward emission trend reflects the strong and steady growth of renewable energy in Europe and the shift away from coal, triggered particularly by increased carbon emission prices. Moreover, the 2019 drop took place in a period of economic growth, highlighting the results of effective climate policies implemented across the EU. This shows that it is clearly possible to achieve more ambitious reduction targets by 2030, paving the way for a climate neutral EU by 2050.

The sharp decrease in emissions in 2019 comes before the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on Europe. The EEA will publish the first detailed data on the EU's 2020 greenhouse emissions in the autumn of 2021.

The EEA will also publish more detailed data on 2019 emissions at the Member State level later this autumn as part of its ‘Trends and projections’ report series, including an assessment about the progress of EU and its Member States towards their respective targets on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. More information about the environmental and climate impacts of COVID-19 is available on the Agency’s website.

Phase out of ozone-depleting substances in the EU

A new EEA briefing confirms that the EU is achieving its goals to phase out ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. The new data show that in 2019, for the seventh consecutive year, the EU destroyed or exported more ozone-depleting substances than it produced or imported. The results reflect the successful implementation of the EU's Ozone Regulation, which goes further than the Montreal Protocol.

The EEA briefing was published on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which is celebrated every year on 16 September. This year marks 35th anniversary of the Vienna Convention and 35 years of ozone layer protection at global level.


Note to editors

The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 1 February 2020, but will apply EU law until the end of the transition period on 31 December 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.


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