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Final Report: EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decrease in 2005

Greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion in the European transport sector, 1990-2005. Click to enlarge.

Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) decreased between 2004 and 2005, according to the final version of the annual GHG inventory report of the European Community prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA), in Copenhagen.

EEA submitted the report, Annual European Community Greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2005 and inventory report 2007, to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the European Community’s official submission. The EEA had released the main, preliminary messages of the report in May 2007 because of public and political interest in the issue of climate change. (Earlier post.)

The key points of the final report are:

  • EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 0.8% (35.2 million tonnes CO2 equivalents) between 2004 and 2005—mainly due to decreasing CO2 emissions of 0.7% (26 million tonnes).

  • EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 2.0% in 2005 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 almost all Member States use 1995 as the base year for fluorinated or ‘F-gases’

  • EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 1.5% between 1990 and 2005.

  • EU-27: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 0.7% (37.9 million tonnes CO2 equivalents) between 2004 and 2005.

  • EU-27: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 7.9% compared to 1990 levels.

Greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion in the transport sector, 2004 to 2005, by country. Click to enlarge.

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.

  • CO2 emissions from public electricity and heat production decreased by 0.9% (-9.6 million tonnes) mainly due to a reduction in the reliance on coal.

  • CO2 emissions from households and services decreased by 1.7 % (7.0 million tonnes). Important decreases in emissions from household and services were reported by Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. One general reason for the decrease is the warmer weather conditions (milder winter) compared to the previous year.

  • CO2 emissions from road transport decreased by 0.8% (6 million tonnes). This is mainly attributed to Germany, and is due to increased amounts of diesel oil driven cars, the effects of the eco-tax and fuel buying from outside Germany (fuel tourism).

Spain increased greenhouse gas emissions the most between 2004 and 2005, with a rise of 3.6% or 15.4 million tonnes CO2 equivalents coming mainly from public electricity and heat production. This is due to a rise in electricity generation from fossil thermal power stations (17 %) and a decrease in electricity generation from hydropower plants (-33 %).

Other EU-15 countries which saw emissions increase between 2004 and 2005 are: Austria, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.

The EU-15 has a common target under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, compared to the base year. The EU-27 does not have a common Kyoto target. Official reporting of emissions for compliance purposes under the Kyoto Protocol does not begin until 2010—when emissions will be reported for the year 2008. In the meantime, this report is the most relevant and accurate source of information on greenhouse gas emissions for the EU.

This inventory report suggests that domestic emissions of GHGs decreased by approximately 2.0% compared to the base year under the Kyoto Protocol.




Thats 2005, how about now?

It took more then a year to concluded that 2005 has reduced GHG? Cool.


Current report highlights the sum of all GHG emissions (CO2, methane, NO, CFC) from all sources, including agriculture and land use. Reduction of methane in Europe and America is remarkable, and as a result global concentration of methane in atmosphere is now dropping. Interesting article about air conditioner refrigerants is here:


It estimates that average emissions of old automotive refrigerant R12 were equal to whopping 3.4 ton of CO2 equivalent from average car per year (compared to about 10 ton of CO2 emissions per European per year). Emissions of new R134a are equivalent to 0.125 ton of CO2 equivalent per car per year. Quite a difference.

That’s said, total GHG emission flux estimations are very dependant on methodology. As for me, the most interesting metrix is CO2 emissions per capita from FOSSIL FUEL combustion. Numbers and trends are quite interesting. Data in ton CO2 per capita:

Country 1980 1990 2004

UK 10.8 10.4 9.62
France 9 6.5 6.7
Germany 11.5 10.5

Austria 7.6 7.1 8.5
Netherlands 13.5 13.8 16.4
Belgium 13.6 12.5 14.3
Switzerland 7.3 6.3 6

Denmark 13.2 11 10.3
Finland 11.8 10.6 11.8
Norway 8 8 11.2
Sweden 10.5 6.3 6.6

Italy 6.5 7.3 8.4
Spain 5.3 5.7 9
Ireland 6.6 7.4 10.7

Canada 18.4 17.2 18.1
US 20.9 20 20.2
Australia 13.6 15.5 19.4
Japan 8.1 8.2 9.9


Couple of comments:

All Eastern Europe countries decreased their CO2 emissions by 30-50%. Unification of Germany substantially reduced it overall CO2 emissions due to downfall of East Germany industry. UK benefited from substantial switch from coal to domestic NG. Germany benefited from switch from coal to Russian NG. France decreased it CO2 emissions due to total reliance on non-fossil electricity (78% nuclear 19% hydro). Switzerland benefited from more nuclear and hydro. Norway and Sweden benefited from increased use of NG and hydro.

Norway increased CO2 production due to massive oil&gas exploration, Australia increased CO2 output due to massive increase in mining and energy sector.

All in all, conclusions I can draw from the data:
1.Developed countries managed to stabilize CO2 emissions per capita in last 25 years, and it is incredible achievement considering substantial growth of GDP per capita (W. Europe 35% from 1990, US/Canada about 50%).

2. Kyoto agreement signed in 1995 has near zero role in this achievement.

3.US and Canada managed to stabilize their CO2 emissions, despite substantial increase in GDP and substantial increase in mining/energy sector in Canada. Still emissions are high, and hence energy use efficiency is low.

4. 50-70% reduction target in CO2 emissions proclaimed by politicians on both sides of Atlantic is pure greenwash.

5. The only way to substantially reduce CO2 emissions is massive increase in nuclear power generation and switch to electrical ground transportation and home heating. Renewable energy and biofuels have potential, thought very limited.


Opposed to what Andrey says, renewable energy sources are not very limited, to say the least. I just calculated how much of EU-25 land area it would take to take care of whole primary energy consumption of EU-25 with different renewables.

Solar PV: 0,7 % (eff 15%, South European insolation)
Wind: 10 % (actually 0,1-0,2 % since only 1-2% of the land is really used)
Biomass: 44 % (40 MJ/m2, quite high production)
Waves could produce maybe 20% of the primary energy consumption if the whole Atlantic coast was to be built.

Nuclear on the other hand is very limited at least until breeder reactors or the like became commercially available. That won't be before 2050 if ever. Way too late for climate change anyway.

Rafael Seidl

For me, the most important take-away here is that the US, Canada and Australia emit roughly 2x the CO2 equivalent per capita that Western European nations do.

Arguably, a somewhat higher output is to be expected, considering the much greater distances that must be covered in transporting goods across these vast nations. Also, heating and air conditioning requirements are higher due to more extreme weather conditions - and construction methods based on the expectation of very low electricity costs.

Still, 2x still seems way too high a multiplier; compared to the EU-15, it should be more like 1.25-1.5. For the US, Canada and Australia, then, stabilization of CO2 emissions is not nearly good enough. They need to really reduce their emissions by substantial amounts. That will require a global agreement in which currently exempt emerging economies such as China and India will also need to make fair and reasonable contributions in the form of emissions targets per $ of GNP.

Nuclear power has its own severe issues and should not IMHO be considered a panacea. Every form of fuel production and power generation has significant environmental downsides, so the top priority has to be improving energy efficiency. There is an awful lot of low-hanging fruit, but as long as energy is fairly cheap nothing much will happen.

The transportation sector is particularly critical because ICEs and jet engines all depend massively on crude oil. If that runs low, expect more military conflicts over access to what is left. Alternatives such as usable BEVs are becoming technically feasible but the cost is still very high.


Unfortunately, the switch to natural gas is a one off exercise as this resource will be in increasingly short supply. Unless the world's countries seriously commit to renewables and nuclear, there will be overwhelming pressure to lose some of these gains by massively expanding the number of coal plants. There are 150 on the drawing boards in the U.S.. Hopefully, Europe can follow the leads of Denmark, Germany, and Spain in the wind area.

While the conventional view is that wind can only expand to 20% of total electricity load, the organization that runs the U.K. electric grid recently came out with the statement that wind's penetration is virtually unlimited. The devil is in the details as serious penetration over 20% will probably require parallel increases in the ability to store wind power.

Of course, there is always conservation, and a lot more is possible. The main requirements are political will, social, and cultural change. As long as bigger is better, in transportation and housing, there is little hope of making progress.


Conservation, or more precisely – increased energy use efficiency, is the main factor which allowed stabilization of energy/fossil fuel use in developed countries while increasing GDP. However, we can not reduce energy use by 50-70% without demolishing industrial society. The only thing we can do is to switch (and quite gradually) to non-fossil sources of energy.


CO2 per capita also depends strongly on profile of the economy. Netherlands Antilles emit 52 ton CO2 per capita, US Virgin Islands 147 ton, Gibraltar -150, Trinidad&Tobago 30, Oil emirates of the Gulf 30-50, Luxemburg – 26, all due to massive oil refineries, NG industry, or steel mills. Canada and Australia export huge amounts of energy- intensive metals, minerals, and hydrocarbons, so your factor 1.5 is probably minimal attainable for them. US also has very extensive commodity industry. From the other side, these three countries are huge, and have substantial potential for hydro, solar, and wind. The key factor, as you mentioned, is price.


Curious as to why emergent industrial nations China and India, are given such a large pass on reduced emissions. In both cases these nations are advantaged to be constructing energy infrastructure with current technology. Clean(er) coal, alternatives, nuclear. Both countries are positioned to leap frog older, polluting resources and would therefor be reasonably able to reduce emissions in line with EU, North America.

If as reported here China is constructing 2,000 coal fired power plants - should they not be of the cleanest design possible?

China effectively leaped over fifty years of old analog communications infrastructure and is not burdened with expensive upgrades. The same design elements apply to energy IMHO.

stupid site


I appreciated the thought that went into "Rexis"'s June 14 post above. But after stating that "US and Canada managed to stabilize their CO2 emissions, despite substantial increase in GDP and substantial increase in mining/energy sector in Canada" he said: "Still emissions are high, and hence energy use efficiency is low."

In fact, this conclusion is not entirely correct. If you compare GHG emissions per unit of output for Canadian and European energy production, chemical and other manufacturing sectors, Canadian operations tend to be more efficient than European comparables. What is high is the rate of increase in Canadian per capita energy and manufacturing sector output, and related commercial freight emissions.

Largely due to the EU trend towards deinsustrialization, Europe continues to become more and more dependent on energy and energy intensive imports. By shifting from dependence on domestically produced energy and energy intensive products (including food) to dependence on imports, the EU has shifted part of the full fuel cycle GHGs associated with European consumption to the GHG inventories of the nations on which the EU increasingly depends for supply.

In fact, between 1990 and 2004, per capita transport sector GHGs increased 25% for the EU27, while they increased only 11% in Canada. Western European per capita consumption of electricity rose 20.2%, while Canadian per capita electricity consumption rose only 2.7% At the end of 2004, the EU-wide electricity grid was some 4 times more CO2 intensive than Canada's electricity supply.

New car sales in Europe are more efficient than new car sales in Canada. But Canada's vehicle stock turns over faster than Europe's, and per capita car ownership rates and distances travelled are increasing faster in many EU member states than they are in Canada. So actual per capita transport emissions have declined faster in Canada, even though our new car supply is relatively higher emitting.

It is important not to confuse an artifact of the UNFCCC/Kyoto GHG accounting method with real measures of efficiency. If the international protocol required all nations to carry the wellhead to wheels GHGs associated with their energy and energy intensive product consumption--regardless where the supply chain GHGs actually occur--Europe's apparent lead as a GHG reducer would shrink. European GHGs are going down with deindustrialization, but Europe's global GHG footprint has gone up since 1990.

Deindustrialization is simply emission shifting if per capita demand for energy and to operate energy-consuming appliances remains stable or grows.

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