EU economy greenhouse gases above pre-pandemic levels - Products Eurostat News

null EU economy greenhouse gases above pre-pandemic levels

16/05/2022

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In the fourth quarter of 2021, EU economy greenhouse gas emissions totaled 1 041 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq), slightly above the pre-pandemic value for the fourth quarter of 2019.

This information comes from data on quarterly estimates for greenhouse gas emissions by economic activity published by Eurostat today. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions.

EU economy greenhouse gas emissions in the fourth quarter of 2021 increased by 8% compared with the same quarter of 2020. This increase is largely due to the effect of the economic rebound after the sharp decrease of activity in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. For comparison, the emissions for the same period in  2019 amounted to 1 005 million tonnes of CO2-eq. 
 

Stacked chart: greenhouse gas emissions by economic activity, EU, Q1 2010- Q4 2021 (million tonnes of CO-2 equivalents)

Source dataset: env_ac_aigg_q

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the economic sectors responsible for most emissions of greenhouse gases were households (22%), manufacturing and electricity supply (both 21%), followed by agriculture (12%) and transportation and storage (11%). Greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors increased compared with the same period of 2020, with the highest increases recorded in transportation and storage (+18%), mining (+11%) and electricity supply (+10%). 

Despite the effect of the economic rebound between the same quarters of 2020 and 2021, the long-term trend of EU greenhouse gas emissions displays a steady reduction. 

Bar chart: growth rates of total greenhouse gas emissions for the economy (% change compared with the same quarter of the previous year)

Source dataset: env_ac_aigg_q

Emissions in the fourth quarter of 2021 increased in all EU Member States when compared with the same quarter of 2020, reflecting recovery from the pandemic. In some Member States, like Cyprus (+0.3%), the Netherlands and Slovenia (both +2%) and Luxembourg (+3%), emissions in the fourth quarter of 2021 remained low compared with the same quarter of 2020, while in Estonia (+28%), Bulgaria (+27%) and Malta (+23%) emissions increased substantially. 

In some cases, like Estonia (+28%), Bulgaria (27%), Sweden (+14%), and Latvia and Belgium (both +13%) for example, the registered increase was noticeably more pronounced than the decrease recorded between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the same quarter of 2020.

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Methodological notes: 

  • Metadata on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Greenhouse gases cause climate change. The so-called ‘Kyoto basket’ of greenhouse gases includes carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases. They are expressed in a common unit, CO2-equivalents.
  • The data presented here are estimates by Eurostat, except for the Netherlands and Sweden which provided their own estimates. 
  • Eurostat’s methodology differs from the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions under the UN rules, which provides annual data on EU progress towards its targets. A main methodological difference is an attribution to individual countries of international transport and the corresponding air emissions. The Eurostat estimates include the international transport emissions in the total for each country, according to the international System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).
  • The EU inventory is based on annual inventory reports by the Member States and is prepared and quality checked by the European Environment Agency on behalf of the Commission and submitted to the UNFCCC each spring. The period covered by the inventory starts in 1990 and runs up until 2 years before the current year (e.g. in 2021 the inventories cover greenhouse gas emissions up to 2019). According to the European Climate Law, the EU’s climate target is to achieve -55% net reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
  • EU countries are required to monitor their emissions under-reporting rules based on internationally agreed obligations in line with guidelines from the IPCC. The reporting covers emissions of seven greenhouse gases from all sectors: energy, industrial processes, land use, land use change & forestry (LULUCF), waste, agriculture, etc. As parties to the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, the EU and Member States report annually on their greenhouse gas emissions to the UN ('greenhouse gas inventories').

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