Emissions of greenhouse gases in the European Union (EU) fell on average by 2.5 % from 2010 to 2011, although several countries increased emissions. Almost all European countries are individually on track towards their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol compared to last year, according to two reports published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The report ‘Approximated EU greenhouse gas inventory: early estimates for 2011’ gives early estimates of greenhouse gas emissions in the previous year and provides a key input to the report on ‘Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2012’, which assesses progress against the EU’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
“The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on itsKyototarget,” says Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director. “In two months’ time we will be at the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Considerable progress has been made since 1997 but all Member States need to deliver on their plans. For those EU Member States who have not achieved their target through domestic emission reductions, the Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms remain available until 2015.”
According to EEA’s estimates, the largest relative emissions decreases from 2010 to 2011 were registered in countries with small to medium shares of total EU greenhouse gas emissions: 13 % in Cyprus, followed by 8 % in Belgium, Finland and Denmark. The United Kingdom made the biggest emission cuts in absolute terms, with a reduction of 36 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) in 2011, or 6 %. This was followed by France (24 Mt CO2 eq, 5 %) and Germany (17 Mt CO2 eq, 2 %).
Nine EU Member States increased emissions between 2010 and 2011. Bulgaria increased emissions by 11 %, while Lithuania increased by 3 % and Romanian emissions rose by 2 %. However, these countries have made some of the deepest cuts in emissions overall since 1990.
Although economic factors played a part in certain countries, it is notable that the EU economy overall grew by 1.5% while emissions fell by 2.5%. Most of the countries registering the deepest cuts in emissions had positive growth in 2011.
A warm winter in most countries was a key factor in cutting emissions in 2011, as the demand for fossil fuels for heating was lower than in previous years. The residential and commercial sector – largely outside the scope of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) – contributed most to lower emissions in the European Union.
These EEA figures will be further consolidated by mid-2013 in the European Union’s greenhouse gas inventory. The inventory will allow for a detailed analysis of emission trends in EU Member States.