Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 0.7 percent in 2017, but remain on track to meet 2020 reduction target
EU greenhouse gas emissions rose by 0.7 percent in 2017 compared to the 2016, due to increased emissions from industry, road transport and aviation, according to official data released yesterday.
Figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show that while carbon emissions fell across most sectors of the EU’s economy in 2017, increases in emissions from transport, air conditioning and refrigeration pushed overall greenhouse gas levels higher.
However, despite the recorded rise in 2017, there has been a total net drop in emissions of 21.7 per cent since 1990, putting the EU on course to exceed its target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. This has been achieved even though Europe’s GDP has grown by 58 per cent over the same period.
The overall reduction over the past three decades has been largely driven by decarbonisation of the energy sector, the EEA said, as the EU has switched to using natural gas over carbon intensive coal and oil. The largest emission cuts have been made in the energy sector, due to efficiency improvements, increased use of renewables and a less carbon intensive mix of fossil fuels — more natural gas, and less coal and oil.
But emissions from transport continue to grow, with carbon dioxide from road transport increasing for the fourth consecutive year in 2017. Most of the increase was accounted for by higher diesel consumption by trucks and vans, but consumption and emissions also increased for passenger cars. Emissions from international aviation increased substantially as a result of higher demand and consumption of jet kerosene across both freight and passenger vehicles.
Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Portugal and Spain, were singled out in the report for their poor record in tackling greenhouse gas emissions over the last three decades.
Cyprus, with an increase of 57.8 percent in this period, and Portugal, with 19.5 percent rise, are the countries that, in percentage terms, increased their emissions most. Spain saw the largest increase in 2017, due “in large part” to the “increase in emissions from road transport, electricity and heat production and those from homes and services”.
The report highlighted the positive record in the United Kingdom and Germany, which together accounted for 50 percent of the total net reduction of EU emissions in the last 27 years. The analysis explains that the main reasons “for the favorable trend in Germany were an increase in energy efficiency” and the changes produced after German reunification, mainly “in the steel and iron sector”. In addition, it notes the replacement of coal for natural gas in German electricity production and the “strong increase” of renewables and improvements in the management of organic waste.
In the case of the United Kingdom, the report attributes the reduction of emissions to the abandonment of oil and coal electricity generation. And, as in the German case, the decrease in iron and steel production and the better management of landfills.