Statistics Explained

Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions in the EU


1st quarter 2022

Data extracted in August 2022

Planned article update: November 2022

Highlights

In the first quarter of 2022, EU economy greenhouse gas emissions totalled 1 028 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, which is slightly below pre-COVID levels registered in the first quarter of 2019.


This article is about quarterly emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG emissions) in the European Union (EU) classified by emitting economic activities (industries and households). The GHGs comprise carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and fluorinated gases (hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and natrium trifluoride (NF3)). Eurostat records and publishes these in air emissions accounts (AEA), one of the modules in the European environmental economic accounts (for which the legal basis is Regulation (EU) No 691/2011). AEA are suited for integrated environmental-economic analyses such as calculating emission intensities or 'footprints'.

[[File:Quarterly greehouse gas emissions 2022-dynamic 2010Q1-2022Q1.xlsx]]

Greenhouse gas emissions - all activities and households, EU, 2010-Q1 to 2022-Q1


Full article


Greenhouse gas emissions

In the first quarter of 2022, EU economy greenhouse gas emissions totalled 1 028 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq), a 7% and 6% increase compared with the same quarter of 2020 and 2021, but still below pre-COVID levels registered in the first quarter of 2019, when the EU economy emitted 1 035 million tonnes of CO2-eq.

Emissions by economic activity

Greenhouse gas emissions in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 6 % compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This increase is largely due to the effect of the economic rebound after the sharp decrease in activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis. (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Greenhouse gas emissions by economic activity, EU, Q1 2010 - Q1 2022
(million tonnes of CO2 equivalents)
Source: Eurostat (env_ac_aigg_q)

In the first quarter of 2022, the economic sectors responsible for most emissions of greenhouse gases were households (24 %), electricity, gas supply (21 %) and manufacturing (20 %), followed by agriculture (12 %) and transportation and storage (10 %). Greenhouse gas emissions increased in all sectors compared with the same period of 2021, except for households which remained at the same level (245 million tonnes of CO2-eq.). The highest increases were recorded in transportation and storage (+20 %), mining (+15 %) and construction (+10 %).

Emissions across EU Member States

Emissions in the first quarter of 2022 increased in almost all EU Member States when compared with the same quarter of 2021, indicating a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.(see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Growth rates of total greenhouse gas emissions for the economy
(% change compared with the same quarter of the previous year)
Source: Eurostat (env_ac_aigg_q)

The Netherlands (-9 %), Finland (-1 %) and Sweden (-0.6 %) were the only Member States that registered a decrease in emissions in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the first quarter of 2021. Among the Member States with increased emissions in the same comparison period were Bulgaria (+38 %), Malta (+21 %) and Ireland (+20 %).

When comparing the first quarter of 2020 with the same quarter of 2019, it revealed the opposite picture: almost all EU Member States registered a reduction in emissions at the beginning of the pandemic.

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Quarterly data are estimated by Eurostat applying the methods described in the methodological note on Eurostat’s Estimates of Quarterly Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accounts. The quarterly estimates are based on sub-annual activity data and annual air emissions accounts (AEA).

In AEA, the emissions data are organised by economic activity, using the NACE classification. This arrangement makes it possible to have an integrated environmental-economic analysis to supplement national accounts. The scope encompasses production by all businesses resident in the country, including those operating ships, aircraft and other transportation equipment in other countries.

Air emissions accounts also include households as consumers. Their emissions are accounted for whenever household consumption is directly responsible for environmental pressures. For example, emissions from a privately owned car are accounted under households, whereas cars owned by transport businesses (such as taxis) are accounted under transportation and storage.

The following groupings of economic activities are used in this article:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing — NACE Rev. 2 Section A;
  • mining and quarrying — NACE Rev. 2 Section B;
  • manufacturing — NACE Rev. 2 Section C;
  • electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply — NACE Rev. 2 Section D;
  • water supply; sewerage, waste management — NACE Rev. 2 Section E;
  • construction - NACE Rev. 2 Section F;
  • transportation and storage — NACE Rev. 2 Section H;
  • services (except transportation and storage) — NACE Rev. 2 Sections G to U minus H;
  • households — households as consumers.

In addition, Eurostat disseminates greenhouse gas emissions classified by technical processes. These are recorded in GHG emission inventories, including data for international climate policies. Furthermore, Eurostat estimates and disseminates 'footprints' which are greenhouse gas emissions classified by final products that are demanded by households or government, or that are invested in or exported.

Each greenhouse gas has a different capacity to cause global warming, depending on its radiative properties, molecular weight and the length of time it remains in the atmosphere. The global warming potential (GWP) of each gas is defined in relation to a given weight of carbon dioxide for a set time period (for the purpose of the Kyoto Protocol a period of 100 years). GWPs are used to convert emissions of greenhouse gases to a relative measure (known as carbon dioxide equivalents: CO2-equivalents). The weighting factors currently used are the following: carbon dioxide = 1, methane = 25, nitrous oxide = 298, and sulphur hexafluoride = 22 800; hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons comprise a large number of different gases that have different GWPs.

Context

The data obtained from air emissions accounts may subsequently feed into political decision-making, underpinning policies that target both continued economic growth and sustainable development, including the European Commission’s latest initiative, the European Green Deal. Improving the timeliness of disseminating greenhouse gas emissions is one objective of the action plan ‘Statistics for the Green Deal'. Air emissions accounts measure the interplay between the economy and the environment with respect to air emissions, in order to assess whether current production and consumption activities are on a sustainable path of development. Measuring sustainable development is a complex undertaking as it has to incorporate economic, social and environmental indicators.

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