Eurostat estimates that in 2020, the year when COVID-19 containment measures were widely introduced by the EU Member States, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion (mainly oil and oil products, coal, peat and natural gas) significantly decreased by 10% in the EU compared with the previous year. CO2 emissions from energy use are a major contributor to global warming and account for some 75% of all man-made EU greenhouse gas emissions. They are influenced by factors such as climate conditions (e.g. cold / long winter or hot summer), economic growth, size of the population, transport and industrial activities.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are generated in the country where the fuels are burned for purposes such as electricity generation, transport, steel production etc. Consequently, imports and exports of energy products have an impact: for example, if coal is imported for electricity generation this leads to an increase in emissions in the importing country, while if electricity as such is imported, it has no effect on emissions in the importing country, as these emissions would be reported in the exporting country where the electricity has been produced.
Biggest decreases in CO2 emissions from energy use in Greece and Estonia, lowest in Malta and Hungary
According to Eurostat estimates, emissions fell in 2020 in all EU Member States, with the largest decrease in Greece (-18.7%), followed by Estonia (-18.1%), Luxembourg (-17.9%), Spain (-16.2%) and Denmark (-14.8%). The lowest decreases were seen in Malta (-1.0%), Hungary (-1.7%), Ireland and Lithuania (both -2.6%).
In 2020, a clear drop in fossil fuel consumption (hardcoal, lignite, shale oil and oil sands, oil and oil products and natural gas) was observed in all countries. The largest decreases were seen for all types of coals. The consumption of oil and oil products also decreased in almost all Member States, while natural gas consumption decreased only in fifteen Member States and increased or stayed at the same level in the twelve others. In contrast, the share of renewables (especially wind, hydro and solar) in electricity generation grew considerably (> 80 Terawatt hours more electricity generation).
For more information
- Early estimates of CO2 emissions from energy use for 2020 published in this news article are computed by Eurostat based on aggregated monthly energy statistics for fossil fuels (oil and oil products, natural gas, coal and peat) for the years 2019 and 2020. These monthly data are official data provided by Member States to Eurostat. The comparison of the two years gives a year-on-year change by fuel (increase/decrease by x%). This year-on-year change is then applied to official (GHG) inventory data Member States provided to UNFCCC for reference year 2019 and results in the amount of CO2 emitted (in kt) in 2020 by fossil fuel and by country.
- CO2 emission data published here may slightly differ from those published nationally. More information is available in the methodological note.
- Data on CO2 emissions from energy use presented in this article do not include CO2 emissions resulting from the combustion of non-renewable waste.
- Country notes: Estonia: monthly data for shale oil and oil sands had to be adapted. Cyprus: data on jet kerosene consumption in international aviation were gap filled by Eurostat. Romania: 2019 UNFCCC data for liquid fuels were corrected. Sweden: not included, data under revision.
- Statistics Explained article on electricity generation from non-combustible renewables.
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