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EEA Reports EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop in 2005; Transport Sector Down as Well

Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Europe decreased between 2004 and 2005, according to preliminary data from a forthcoming report by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report, Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2005 and inventory report 2007, was submitted to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the European Community’s official submission on 14 April. The full report will be published in mid-June 2007, however, the EEA is releasing the main messages of the report early.

The drop in emissions, while positive, must be viewed in context. It represents a decrease over only one year and may not be representative of the trend over a longer period.

—Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA

The key points of the report are:

  • EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 0.8 % between 2004 and 2005.

  • EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 1.5 % compared to 1990.

  • EU-27: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 8 % compared to 1990 levels.

In absolute terms, the main sectors contributing to emissions reductions between 2004 and 2005 in the EU-15 were public electricity and heat production, households and services, and road transport.

Emissions from public electricity and heat production decreased mainly due to a reduction in the reliance on coal. The reduced emissions from households and services have to be further analysed, but appear to be due to climatic conditions. The decrease in emissions from road transport has also to be further analysed, but appears to be a combination of reduced fuel consumption and increased use of diesel cars.

Germany, Finland and the Netherlands contributed most to the EU-15 reduction.

  • Germany: a shift from coal to gas in the production of public electricity and heat was one of the main reasons for the decrease in emissions. In addition, emissions from road transport and from households and services declined substantially.

  • Finland: emission reductions were mainly due to a substantial decrease in the use of fossil fuels in the production of public electricity and heat. Coal use, in particular, decreased.

  • The Netherlands: less fossil fuel was used for the production of public electricity and heat.

The EEA compiles the greenhouse gas inventory report annually using information reported by national governments under the EC GHG Monitoring Mechanism.

The report contains domestic GHG emissions data from 1990 to 2005 for the EU-15 and the EU-27. Domestic, in this context, refers to emissions from within each Member State, which are then added up to give an EU total. The data may be subject to change up to May 2007 as a result of initial checks by the UNFCCC secretariat and updates by EU Member States, however, the main trends outlined will not change.

Official reporting of emissions for compliance purposes under the Kyoto Protocol does not begin until 2010, when emissions will be reported for 2008. In the meantime, this report tracks progress towards Kyoto targets.

The EU-15 has a common target to reduce GHG emissions by 8%, compared to the base year  using domestic reductions (cutting emissions from each Member State) as well as Kyoto mechanisms (EU Member States invest in emissions reductions initiatives outside the EU in return for credits). This inventory report suggests that domestic emissions of GHGs decreased by approximately 1.9% compared to the base year under the Kyoto Protocol.

The base year for most greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol is 1990 for the EU-15, but some Member States use 1995 as the base year for fluorinated gases.

The EU-15 includes: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom.

The EU-27 includes:  Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom.



Any way to know how much of this change can be attributed to annual weather fluctuations?

Rafael Seidl

The old EU-15 member states may not be on track to meet their Kyoto targets, but they have managed to reduce their GHG emissions by 1.5% since 1990 in spite of some economic growth and substantial increases in freight traffic due to EU expansion. The modest growth rates may be due in part to high energy costs but perhaps more so to expensive welfare states, low/negative population growth and sclerotic labor markets in certain member states (e.g. Germany, France). The relatively strong Euro has also hurt exports to some extent.

The US, Canada and Australia, for example, have all achieved substantially higher economic cumulative growth since 1990, AFAIK at the "price" of even faster growth in net GHG emissions. For the PRC, the ratio is far worse still. I say "price" because these nations are not at present subject to any penalties for all but ignoring their contributions to what the IPCC has concluded is a massive and largely anthropogenic problem on a global scale.


The sad thing is that the Chinese CO2 emissions increases have more than obliterated anything the EU has achieved as far as their own reductions are concerned. But environmental problems seem to be reaching a breaking point in China, so perhaps things will change. But I'm not going to hold my breath.


The U.S. increases have also obliterated the reduction in emissions by the Euros.

France awhile back suggested that it might be about time to impose some sort of trade sanctions on the U.S. if they did not sign up to reducing their emissions. Perhaps the Europeans should consider similar sanctions with respect to China. There is always the dilemma, however, that China has just started on the path to modernity and wealth. They cannot fathom why the Europeans and especially the Americans have the right to insist that the Chinese cut their emissions.


The EU reducing their emissions from where they would have been is good thing. CO2 is additive and cumulative and less is better, no matter who does the reductions. Give the developing nations better ways and they just might just adopt them.

If someone gives China a way they can grow their economy and do it cleanly and just as cheaply, they might listen. Until that time, they will continue to put one coal fired power plant online every week to provide electricity. We could be providing solar thermal electric plants to China and India like the ones at Kramer Junction in the Mojave Desert.

To me, this is a prime opportunity for developed nations to provide those technologies. If the present U.S. administration had not cut NREL budgets year after year, the U.S. might be able to provide those to China and offset some of the trade imbalance that we have with them.


SJC: The US is not to blame if China isn't choosing solar because coal is cheaper.

Other nations, including Germany and Japan, are major makers of solar panels and equipment. The US certainly makes equipment too but if other nations want solar they have plenty of options.

You speak of 'providing' the technologies and the solar thermal electric plants. No one is preventing China from doing as they wish. They are adults and their merits and faults are not dictated by NREL budgets.


I never said provide as in give, but developed countries are in a better position to develop the technologies.
I was not referring to solar panels, solar thermal electric is done with parabolic mirrors on a very large utility grade scale. If you are going to provide PHEVs and EVs with electricity, it is better to do it with wind and solar.

NREL does the advance research and development that industry will not do. Many of the present renewable energy technologies came from NREL. When you cut their budgets there is a gap in the development time line that will take years to fill again.

You have a difference of opinion, but there are worldwide organizations that are working on getting sustainable energy technology to developing countries, including China.

Rafael Seidl


just for reference, the Chinese are investing in coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and a bunch of other technologies all at the same time and at full tilt. Remember, this is a country with more inhabitants than the entire "developed" world put together and its economy is growing at 10-15% a year - albeit from a much lower base.

China does still operate a lot of outdated, energy-inefficient industrial equipment. However, its leaders seem to be quite aware that environmental disasters were a major factor in the collapse of Communist rule in the Soviet Union.

Given that continued Communist rule in China now appears to depend on breakneck economic growth, a shortage of fossil fuel supplies could well throw a spanner in the works for them. For that reason - never mind the global climate - China will develop energy-efficient technologies of its own and also import them from the West. In engineering terms, China led the world for 28 out of the last 30 centuries - chances are, one day it will do so again.


I see no reason why China's economy must grow at "break neck speed". Any time you have booms and busts, it distorts resource allocations. The busts are most likely caused by the booms. Both are harmful, but the western world seems to reward the manic booms. The Chinese leaders may see the wisdom in not having a bust brought on by a prolonged boom and favor a more steady growth.


SJC: You have a reasonable view but I stand by what I said.

The PRC has a trillion US dollars, launch satellites and recently shot one down, they have launched astronauts, they are building a great rail based transportation system, and they are moving ahead on nuclear as fast as anyone in the world.

If they want solar, be it thermal or PV, there are no restrictions whatever on their getting it. Ditto wind. There is no embargos about any of this.

The fact that the NREL would like a bigger budget has nothing to do with Chinese control of CO2. And if NREL vanished this afternoon the world would move right along in this science.

The Kramer Junction technology is available to China. In fact KJ is operated by a private company that markets such technology. And KJ itself isn't about research, KJ is about 20 years old.

P Schager

China led the world, engineering-wise, in the last 30 centuries except when democracy reigned elsewhere. If they want to lead again, they are going to have to reconcile themselves with this. Until they do, the rivalry is going to keep the negotiations to solve global warming difficult and messy. The creatively productive democratic world could in principle give away to China all sorts of fruits of our innovators' efforts, so China will find that cheaper than fossil fuel. But that would both undermine the innovators we are depending on to solve our problems and keep China from having to face the problem that their true innovative capacity is limited as long as people are not free, so we'd be undermining our own security as well. And nothing's to stop them from burning the available fossil fuel off too once its price has been dropped by Western conservation efforts, just to get a leg up competitively, if they don't feel they need to maintain any Western friends once they are strong. Once this is resolved, solving global warming will be easy. Imagine all of us working together.


To give you an idea why even dems when they were in power didnt wana tackle this...

If gm goes belly up it will cost the us more then the war in iraq...akit more. Andunlike iraq once you go there is no exit.

Add all the other companies towns and even states and we are talking budget armmaggeddon. Total housing implosion.. stock market genocide... and THEN things get realy bad as it spreads across the planet.
Fact is most plans need everyone involved to be very cimpetant... stares at us congress..


The Chinese recently made a very large oil find. 7.5 billion barrels, off their coast in shallow water. The field is expected to produce 200k bbl per day. This will slow their rate of import increases, but not stop them. It's probably one of the few large undiscovered oilfields that are left out there.


Another good reason to help them is that if they go into a boom generated bust, they may stop buying our T Bonds, which would throw us into a tailspin.


A comment on the original news piece. When it comes to emission reductions from 2004 to 2005, they are at least partly due to weather situation.

Nordic electricity consumption is around 390 TWh. It gets around half of that from hydro power mostly in Norway and Sweden. Not surprisingly, there is quite large variation in yearly inflow. When there is a bad hydro year, condensing power plants produce more. This affects especially coal power plants in Denmark and Finland, since Norway does not have them and Sweden only little.

In 2005 hydro production in the Nordic countries was 222.2 TWh. In 2004 it was much less mainly due to recovery from a very bad inflow year of 2003.

The situation in German could be as the news said, a slow shift from coal to gas. However, since 2000, German wind power production has come up from close to zero to 6-7 % of their electricity production. A good wind year could also show up as reductions, since condensing coal is first to be pushed out of markets (well, after condensing oil). Furthermore, while Germany has quite little hydro power production, it can be affected by the hydro situation in the Alps (strong links to Austrian system). I didn't look up the statistics though.

Lies, damn lies and statistics...


"And if NREL vanished this afternoon the world would move right along in this science."

You act as if saying this makes a universal and eternal truth. You have no proof that this would be the case. But there is abundant proof of the good work that NREL has done. Just saying something does not make it so...prove it.

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