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Global CO2 emissions continue to rise but EU bucks global trend

Fossil CO2 emissions of the EU Member States and the UK fell by nearly 3.8% in 2019, suggesting that the EU has succeeded in decoupling economic growth from climate changing emissions.
Fossil CO2 emissions of the EU Member States and the UK fell in 2019
Sep 09 2020

Globally, the increase of CO2 emissions continued in 2019, although at a slightly slower pace.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, global greenhouse gas emissions have grown steadily, mainly due to the increase in CO2 emissions from China, India and other emerging economies.

This trend continued in 2019, with global anthropogenic fossil CO2 emissions increasing by 0.9% compared to 2018, and reaching a total of 38.0 Gt CO2.

The largest percentage increase in emissions between 2018 and 2019 was found in China (+3.4%), followed by India (+1.6%), while Japan reduced its fossil CO2 emissions by 2.1%, the United States by 2.6% and Russia by 0.8%.

Fossil CO2 emissions of the EU Member States and the UK fell by nearly 3.8% in 2019, suggesting that the EU has succeeded in decoupling economic growth from climate changing emissions.

In 2019, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels combustion and processes of the EU Member States + UK decreased by 3.8% compared to the previous year, according to the latest JRC report on the “Fossil CO2 emissions for all world countries”.

This means the EU and UK's fossil CO2 emissions were 25 % below the level in 1990. This reduction is the largest among the top emitting economic areas around the world.

A decreasing trend in CO2 emissions per capita and per intensity of monetary output was also observed in Europe from 1990 onwards.

These reductions have been achieved thanks to a mix of mitigation policies aimed at decarbonising the energy supply, the industrial and the building sectors, and will be continued with renewed effort under the umbrella of the European Green Deal.

These are the results of the latest updates of the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), a unique tool developed by the JRC in support of policy impact evaluation and climate negotiations, which provides a benchmark against which national and global estimates can be compared. EDGAR produces a rapid annual time series for global CO2 emissions, covering all countries (including those are not currently required to submit their own national inventories), all major emitting sectors (except land use, land use change and forestry) and using the same methodology for every country.

The official 2019 emissions data for the EU (which is compiled by the European Environment Agency based on data supplied by Member States) will follow later this year and covers all greenhouse gases and sectors.

Europe is on a credible downward emission pathway

The EU, as a signatory to the Paris Agreement (2015), has set ambitious 2030 targets in terms of greenhouse gas emission reductions, which the Commission is presently reviewing to take account of the EU’s ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

While fossil fuel combustion-related activities are, and will remain, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions at the global level, in recent years the EU has succeeded in decoupling the power industry sector from economic growth. Emissions from the power industry sector in the EU + UK are now 39% lower than in 1990.

This success is based on a comprehensive set of policies, including the ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package, adopted in 2018, which set stronger policies to encourage renewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency, with further initiatives planned as part of the European Green Deal.

About the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR)

The recent update of the EDGAR emission data comprises CO2 emissions from 1970 up to 2019.

EDGAR estimates are based on the latest available global statistics and state-of-the-art scientific knowledge of emission mechanisms for a wide range of anthropogenic-driven activities.