Back Eurostat releases for the first time estimates of quarterly EU greenhouse gas emissions


© Angela Waye /

Today Eurostat releases for the first time estimates of the EU quarterly greenhouse gas emissions, including a breakdown of emissions by economic activity. The estimates cover all quarters from 2010 until the second quarter of 2021. This data will be published regularly each quarter from now on.

This is the first release ever of quarterly greenhouse gas emissions estimates for the EU. This is an important improvement in the timeliness of climate change related statistics and is part of Eurostat’s efforts to provide more and better insights into the EU green transition towards the aim to be a net-zero emission continent by 2050.

In the second quarter of 2021, EU greenhouse gas emissions totalled 867 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq), below the pre-pandemic levels for any quarter. The lowest ever value was recorded in the second quarter of 2020, during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Greenhouse gas emissions in the second quarter of 2021 increased by 18% compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This is largely due to the effect of the economic rebound after the sharp decrease of activity in the same quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Stapled mountain chart: greenhouse gas emissions, by economic activity, EU, Q1 2010 - Q2 2021 (million tonnes of CO2-equivalents)

Source dataset: env_ac_aigg_q

In the second quarter of 2021, the economic sectors responsible for most emissions of greenhouse gases were manufacture and construction (34% of the total), electricity supply (19%), agriculture (14%), transport services (8%) and services other than transport (8%). 

Households emitted 101 million tonnes CO2-eq for their transport (12%) plus 52 million tonnes CO2-eq for heating and other purposes (6%).

The greenhouse gas emissions in the second quarter of 2021 increased compared with the same period of the previous year in all sectors. The emissions by households for heating increased by 42% and for transportation by 25%. Emissions by manufacture and construction increased by 22%, transport services by 18%, electricity supply by 17% and services other than transport by 13%. The emissions by the agricultural sector remained almost unchanged (+0.2%). 

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

The official climate monitoring and reporting along the UN rules provides annual data on EU progress towards its targets. The most recent data established according to the United Nations convention on climate change (UNFCCC) rules show that in 2020, EU27 domestic greenhouse gas emissions were down by 31% from 1990 levels.

The EU inventory is prepared 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 emissions up to 2019).

For more information:

  • 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.
  • Eurostat metadata on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Eurostat database on climate change
  • Eurostat dedicated section on climate change related statistics
  • Eurostat Statistics Explained article on annual air emissions accounts
  • The EU inventory
  • The EU annual climate progress report 
  • The quarterly estimates are benchmarked to Eurostat’s annual air emissions accounts. 
  • These data are the result of joint methodological work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).
  • 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').
  • Air emissions accounts record flows of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of economic activities of resident units (businesses, families and government). Air emissions accounts are compiled according to the international System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). Because accounts record air emissions aligned to the scope of national accounts (GDP), they are not identical to the greenhouse gas emission inventories for the UNFCCC. A main methodological difference is the attribution to individual countries of international transport, and the corresponding air emissions. See Eurostat dedicated section on air emissions and the differences between air emission accounts and UNFCCC inventories

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