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EU total greenhouse gas emissions slightly on the decline but transport emissions keep increasing

By Claus Köllinger / Updated: 13 Jun 2018

Official data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of the European Union show that there was a small reduction in GHG emissions (0.4%) in 2016 compared to the previous year. The reduction was delivered as a result of the EU using less coal for heat and electricity production, which compensated for the fact that emissions from the transport sector actually increased for the third year in a row.

The EEA report “Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2016 and inventory report 2018” points out that the transport sector is the second largest emission contributor with higher GHG emissions than industry. Only the energy supply sector is the as yet “unchallenged” main emitter but for this sector there has been a major decrease in emissions since the mid 2000s. The report presents key findings such as:

  • The emission decrease occured as GDP increased, meaning that decoupling economic growth and emission growth is possible.
  • The largest decreases were seen in the UK and Spain, mainly due to using less coal in the power stations in the electricity production sector.
  • The largest relative increase of emissions was seen in Poland, especially in the transport sector.
  • Aside from greenhouse gas emissions, the report states that nuclear electricity generation was on the decline but this was more than compensated by renewable energy sources.
  • Altogether, progress towards the EU objectives to realise its energy and emission reduction goals by on the one hand using less energy and on the other hand improving energy efficiency, were moving in the right direction.

Looking at the potential to reduce net GHG to 2020 by 20% measured against 1990 values, the EU has already surpassed its target having realised an emissions reduction of 22.4% until now. The main reasons for the success on GHG reduction are seen as being the policies, economic factors and, on average, mild winters. The expected developments for 2017 give a cause for concern: The EEA sees indications that emissions increased in 2017. In order to realise the goal of 40% less GHG emissions in 2030, the EEA sees a key role for energy efficiency in order to comply with the 2030 target, but states, as well, that further efforts are necessary to deliver this reduction.

Image source: © Shutterstock

Story first published by “European Environment Agency” on 31 May 2018.

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