Greenhouse gases in the EU economy exceed pre-pandemic levels – Products Eurostat News

In the fourth quarter of 2021, greenhouse gas emissions from the EU economy amounted to 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 of greenhouse gas emissions by economic activity published today by Eurostat. The article presents some findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU economy in the fourth quarter of 2021 increased by 8% compared to the same quarter of 2020. This increase is largely due to the effect of the economic rebound after the sharp drop in activity in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. For comparison, 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 greenhouse gas emissions were households (22%), manufacturing and electricity supply (21% each), followed by agriculture (12% ) and transport and storage (11%). Greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors increased compared to the same period of 2020, with the largest increases recorded in transport and storage (+18%), mining (+11%) ) and electricity supply (+10%).

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

Source dataset: env_ac_aigg_q

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

In some cases, such as Estonia (+28%), Bulgaria (27%), Sweden (+14%), Latvia and Belgium (each +13%) for example, the recorded increase was significantly more pronounced than the drop 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 Eurostat estimates, with the exception of the Netherlands and Sweden which provided their own estimates.
  • Eurostat’s methodology differs from the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions under UN rules, which provide annual data on the EU’s progress towards its targets. A main methodological difference is an attribution to individual countries of international transport and corresponding air emissions. Eurostat estimates include emissions from international transport in the total for each country, according to the international system of environmental-economic accounting (CESG).
  • The EU inventory is based on Member States’ annual inventory reports and is prepared and monitored by the European Environment Agency on behalf of the Commission and submitted to the UNFCCC each spring. The period covered by the inventory begins in 1990 and extends up to 2 years before the current year (for example, in 2021 the inventories cover greenhouse gas emissions up to 2019). According to European Climate Law, the EU’s climate target is to achieve a -55% net reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
  • EU countries are required to monitor their emission under-reporting rules based on internationally agreed obligations in accordance with IPCC guidelines. The reporting covers emissions of seven greenhouse gases from all sectors: energy, industrial processes, land use, land use change and 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 (“inventories of greenhouse gas”).

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