European GHG emissions up in 2010

30th May 2012

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A return to economic growth and cold winter weather resulted in a 2.4% increase in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from EU member states during 2010, according to final figures from the European Environment Agency (EEA)

In its analysis of GHG emissions in 2010, the EEA confirms that total output rose for the first time in five years to 4,720 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent – 111 million tCO2e more than in 2009.

Rising industrial activity, greater demand for heating heating and higher electricity generation were the key causes for the increase in GHGs. The agency also says the rise in emissions would have been higher were it not for growth in renewable energy.

EEA executive director, Jacqueline McGlade, confirmed: “This rebound effect was expected as most of Europe came out of recession. However, the increase could have been even higher without the fast expansion of renewable energy generation.”

With parts of the EU economy returning to growth, EEA figures reveal that emissions from all sectors covered by the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) were up by 2.5%, with GHGs from industrial installations up 5.2%. Following a dramatic fall in emissions of 119 million tCO2e from the manufacturing sectors in 2009, 2010 saw emissions rise by 53 million tCO2e, with output from iron and steel makers accounting for more than 60% of that total.

Despite these increases, the EEA’s analysis concludes that 2010 saw some efficiency improvements across the ETS participants. “Whereas total EU GHG emissions increased by more than total GDP, ETS emissions increased by less than the industrial gross value added,” states the report.

The colder winter weather saw greater demand for heating in both domestic and commercial properties, fuelling a 43 million tCO2e rise in emissions. GHGs from electricity and heat production also grew (by 14 million tCO2e), but the EEA concluded that the increasing use of renewables, natural gas and biomass, alongside falling oil consumption, reduced the overall carbon intensity of energy.

Other more positive findings include that GHG emissions from transport declined by another five million tCO2e, while EU-wide output of nitrous oxide and methane also fell.

However, the report also reveals that the amount of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) produced across the bloc grew by 5% to 84 million tCO2e – three times the amount of HFCs emitted in 1990.

Overall, the 27 member states’ emission levels remained on track to meet its 20% reduction target by 2020, with emissions 15% below those of 1990 levels. The 15 countries operating under the Kyoto agreement continue to outperform their 2012 target of an 8% reduction, with emissions 11% below 1990 levels.

Looking forward, the EEA confirms that preliminary data for 2011 indicate that GHG emissions fell by 2% overall. The EU-wide trends reflect those seen in the UK, which saw carbon dioxide emissions rise by 2.8% in 2010 and then, according to preliminary figures from DECC, fall by 7% in 2011.


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