Back Greenhouse gas emissions falling in most source sectors


© Jaroslav Moravcik/

Climate change can be an overwhelming theme with many indicators involved. To better understand it, Eurostat published today a Statistics Explained article on climate change and its driving forces providing a long-term analysis and in-depth background. 

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the result of human activities which cause anthropogenic climate change, and the EU is an ambitious contributor to the global efforts to fight climate change and reduce GHG emissions, being committed to being climate neutral by 2050.

Data produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and re-published by Eurostat show that GHG emissions have been declining in most sectors, except in fuel combustion in transport, including international aviation. This sector increased by 50 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq) (+7%) in 2020 compared with 1990. 

Bar chart: greenhouse emissions by source sector, EU, 1990-2020 (million tonnes of CO2-equivalent; % change)

Source dataset: env_air_gge

Over all source sectors, the EU managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1546 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents between 1990 and 2020. The largest absolute decrease (-657 million tonnes of CO2-eq) in emissions occurred in the fuel combustion by energy industries, which mainly produce electricity, heat and derived fuels, followed by manufacturing industries and construction (-322 million tonnes) and households, commerce, institutions and others (-215 million tonnes). In terms of relative change, these three sectors registered a 46%, 44% and 29% drop, respectively, in emissions in 2020 compared with 1990. 

Fugitive emissions from fuels show the largest relative change in 2020 compared with 1990 at -59%, but the share in the overall total is much less (1.8% of the total GHG emissions).  

This Statistics Explained article on climate change includes a detailed analysis of eight sectors covering industry, transportation, agriculture, households and waste management.

For more information: 

Methodological data: 

  • GHG emission inventories are taken from Eurostat's dataset Greenhouse gas emissions by source sector (env_air_gge). This dataset is originally produced and published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA GHG emission inventory data is accessible through the EEA greenhouse gas data viewer
  • Source sectors as presented here are groupings of the more detailed classification used in greenhouse gas emission inventories, called common reporting format (CRF). 

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