European Environment Agency (EEA)

Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2013 and inventory report 2015 - Submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat


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ES.1 Background information on greenhouse gas inventories and climate change

The European Union (EU), as a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), reports annually on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories for the years 1990 to t-2 for emissions and removals within the area covered by its Member States (i.e. domestic emissions taking place within its territory).

The present report is the official 2015 submission under the UNFCCC, with data for the years 1990–2013. It does not constitute an official submission under the Kyoto Protocol, even though some of the information included may relate to the requirements under the Kyoto Protocol.

The legal basis for the compilation of the EU inventory is Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting GHG emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change and repealing Decision No 280/2004/EC (1).

This Regulation establishes a mechanism for:

a) ensuring the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability and completeness of reporting by the Union and its Member States to the UNFCCC Secretariat;

b) reporting and verifying information relating to commitments of the Union and its Member States pursuant to the UNFCCC, to the Kyoto Protocol and to decisions adopted thereunder, and evaluating progress towards meeting those commitments;

c) monitoring and reporting all anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHGs not controlled by the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer in Member States;

d) monitoring, reporting, reviewing and verifying GHG emissions and other information pursuant to Article 6 of Decision No 406/2009/EC;

e) reporting the use of revenue generated by auctioning allowances under Article 3d(1) or (2) or Article 10(1) of Directive 2003/87/EC, pursuant to Article 3d(4) and Article 10(3) of that Directive;

f) monitoring and reporting on the actions taken by Member States to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change in a cost-effective manner;

g) evaluating progress by the Member States towards meeting their obligations under Decision No 406/2009/EC.

The new Monitoring Mechanism Regulation has enhanced the reporting rules on GHG emissions to meet the requirements arising from international climate agreements, as well as the 2009 EU climate and energy package. Starting in 2014, GHG inventory reporting takes place under this new legal instrument, which replaces and expands the previous Monitoring Mechanism Decision 280/2004/EC.

The EU GHG inventory comprises the direct sum of emissions from the national inventories compiled by the EU Member States making up the EU-28. Energy data from Eurostat are used for the reference approach for CO2 emissions from fossil fuels developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The main institutions involved in the compilation of the EU GHG inventory are the 28 Member States, the European Commission Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre on Air Pollution and Climate Change Mitigation (ETC/ACM), Eurostat, and the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The annual process of compiling the EU GHG inventory is indicated below. Please note that in 2015, due to the delay in the availability of a functioning UNFCCC reporting software (‘CRF Reporter') the annual process of compiling the EU GHG inventory has been delayed by several months.

1. Member States submit their annual GHG inventories by 15 January each year (30 August in 2015) to the European Commission (DG CLIMA), with a copy to the EEA.

2. The EEA and its ETC/ACM, Eurostat, and JRC then perform initial checks on the submitted data. The draft EU GHG inventory and inventory report are circulated to Member States for review and comments by 28 February (15 October in 2015).

3. Member States check their national data and the information presented in the EU GHG inventory report, respond to specific findings from the initial QA/QC checks by the EU inventory team, send updates if necessary, and review the EU inventory report by 15 March (30 October in 2015).

4. The EEA and its ETC/ACM review final inventory submissions from Member States and their responses to the initial checks, prepare the final EU GHG inventory and inventory report by 15 April (27 November in 2015), so that they can be submitted to the UNFCCC.

5. A resubmission is prepared by 27 May if needed (not applicable in 2015).

ES.2 Summary of greenhouse gas emission trends in the EU
Total GHG emissions excluding Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) amounted to 4 477 million tonnes CO2-equivalent in 2013 (4 481 million tonnes including indirect CO2 emissions). All EU-28 totals provided in this report will be without indirect CO2 emissions (2).

In 2013, total GHG emissions were 21.2% below 1990 levels and (–1203 million tonnes CO2-equivalent). Emissions decreased by 1.9% (86 million tonnes CO2‑equivalent) between 2012 and 2013 (Figure ES. 1).

Main trends by source category, 1990-2013
Total GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) in the EU‑28 decreased by 1 203 million tonnes since 1990 (or 21.2%) reaching their lowest level during this period in 2013.

There has been an absolute decoupling of gross domestic product (GDP) and GHG emission compared to 1990, with an increase in GDP of about 45% alongside a decrease in emissions of over 21% over the 23-year period. This was partly due to growing shares of renewables, less carbon intensive fuels in the energy mix and improvements in energy efficiency. GHG emissions decreased in the majority of sectors between 1990 and 2013, with the notable exception of transport, including international transport, and refrigeration and air conditioning. At the aggregate level, reductions were largest for industrial sectors (combustion and processes), electricity and heat production, and residential combustion. A combination of factors explains lower emissions in industrial sectors, such as improved efficiency and carbon intensity as well as structural changes in the economy. The economic recession that began in the second half of 2008 and continued through to 2009 also had an impact on emissions from industrial sectors. Emissions from electricity and heat production decreased strongly since 1990. In addition to improved energy efficiency there has been a move towards less carbon intense fuels at EU level. Between 1990 and 2013, the use of solid and liquid fuels in thermal stations decreased strongly whereas natural gas consumption doubled, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions per unit of fossil energy generated. Emissions in the residential sector also represented one of the largest reductions. Energy efficiency improvements from better insulation standards in buildings and a less carbon-intensive fuel mix can partly explain lower demand for space heating in the EU as a whole over the past 23 years.

In terms of the main GHGs, CO2 accounts for the largest reduction in emissions since 1990. Reductions in emissions from N2O and CH4 have been substantial, reflecting lower levels of mining activities, lower agricultural livestock, as well as lower emissions from managed waste disposal on land and from agricultural soils.

Table ES. 1 shows those sources with the largest contribution to the change in total GHG emissions in the EU-28 between 1990 and 2013.

Main trends by source category, 2012–2013
Table ES. 2 shows the source categories making the largest contribution to the change in GHG emissions in the EU-28 between 2012 and 2013.

Main reasons for emission changes, 2012–2013
Total GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) decreased by 1.9% (86 million tonnes CO2-equivalent) between 2012 and 2013. This significant decrease in emissions in 2013 came along with a slight increase in GDP of 0.2% compared to 2012 where GDP had contracted by 0.5%. The largest reduction in GHG emissions occurred in the energy sector. Over 80% of the total GHG emissions reduction in 2013 was accounted for by lower CO2 emissions from electricity production in thermal power stations. Primary energy consumption declined overall, with fossil emissions decreasing for all fuels and particularly for solid fuels. The consumption of renewable energy continued its long term trend of higher shares in the energy mix. The GHG emissions intensity of the EU energy system also improved as a result of the less carbon intensive fuel mix in 2013.

The 86 million tonnes (CO2-equivalent) decrease in GHG emissions in the EU-28 between 2012 and 2013 occurred mainly in the following categories.

  • CO2 from public electricity and heat production (– 70 million tonnes or – 6%)
    • Emission reductions in this category were mainly caused by an increase in renewable energy, especially in a higher share of hydro electricity generation and reduced electricity demand.
  • CH4 from managed waste disposal sites (– 7 million tonnes or – 7%)
    • Emission reductions were mainly caused by a decline in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France. In general, emissions from this source decline because the amount of biodegradable waste being landfilled is reduced every year. A second reason for the decline in 2013 compared to 2012 is an increase in CH4 recovery from landfills.
  • CO2 from petroleum refining (– 7 million tonnes or – 6%)
    • Input of crude oil in refineries declined by 6%. This reflects a decline of final energy consumption of petroleum products and an increase in imports of petroleum products from outside of the EU.
  • CO2 from manufacturing industries (excl. iron and steel) (– 6 million tonnes or – 2%)
    • Emission reductions were driven by a decline in industrial production. Gross value added in industry declined by 0.3% between 2012 and 2013.
  • CO2 from cement production (– 3 million tonnes or – 5%)
    • In the EU-28 cement production declined by 5% which reflected the general economic and construction downturn of the last years.

ES.3 Summary of emissions and removals by main greenhouse gas
Table ES. 4 gives an overview of the main trends in EU‑28 GHG emissions and removals for 1990–2013. The most important GHG by far is CO2, accounting for 82% of total EU-28 emissions in 2013 excluding LULUCF. In 2013, EU-28 CO2 emissions without LULUCF were 3 650 million tonnes, which was 18% below 1990 levels. Compared to 2012, CO2 emissions decreased by 2%, representing 94% in total decrease in emissions in 2013. Emissions of CH4, SF6 and NF3 decreased in 2013, while N2O, HFCs and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) increased in 2013.

More detailed information can be found in Chapter 2.

ES.4 Summary of emissions and removals by main source and sink category
Table ES. 5 gives an overview of EU-28 GHG emissions in the main source categories for 1990–2013. The most important sector by far is energy (i.e. combustion and fugitive emissions), accounting for 79% of total EU-28 emissions in 2013. The second largest sector is agriculture (10%), followed by industrial processes (8%). More detailed trend descriptions are included in the individual sector chapters (Chapters 3–7).

ES.5 Summary of EU Member State emission trends
Table ES. 6 gives an overview of Member State contributions to EU GHG emissions for 1990–2013. Member States show large variations in GHG emission trends.

The overall EU GHG emission trend is dominated by the two largest emitters, Germany (21%) and the United Kingdom (13%), accounting for more than one third of total EU-28 GHG emissions in 2013. These 2 Member States have achieved total domestic GHG emission reductions in 2013 of 529 million tonnes of CO2‑equivalent compared to 1990, not counting carbon sinks and the use of Kyoto mechanisms.

The main reasons for the favourable trend in Germany were increasing efficiency in power and heating plants and the economic restructuring of the five new Länder after German reunification. The reduction of GHG emissions in the United Kingdom were primarily the result of liberalising energy markets and the subsequent fuel switches from oil and coal to gas in electricity production, and N2O emission reduction measures in the production of adipic acid.

France and Italy were the third and fourth largest emitters in 2013, with a share in the EU total of 11% and 10% respectively. Italy's GHG emissions were 16% below 1990 levels in 2013. Italian GHG emissions increased from 1990 onwards, primarily due to increases in road transport, electricity and heat production, and petroleum refining. However, Italian emissions decreased from 2004 with significant drops in 2009 and 2012, which were also due to the economic crisis and reductions in industrial output during these years. France's emissions were 11% below 1990 levels in 2013. In France, large reductions were achieved in N2O emissions from adipic acid production, but CO2 emissions from road transport and HFC emissions from consumption of halocarbons increased considerably between 1990 and 2013.

Poland and Spain are the fifth and sixth largest emitters in the EU-28, accounting for 9% and 7% of total EU-28 GHG emissions in 2013. Spain increased emissions by 11% between 1990 and 2013. This was largely due to emission increases from road transport, electricity and heat production, and households and services. Poland decreased GHG emissions by 17% between 1990 and 2013. The main factors for decreasing emissions in Poland — as with other new Member States — were the decline of energy‑inefficient heavy industry and the overall restructuring of the economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The notable exception was transport (especially road transport), where emissions increased.

ES.6 Other information
International aviation and maritime transportation
Emissions of GHGs from international aviation and shipping activities increased between 1992 and 2007. Emissions decreased between 2007 and 2010 in the EU-28 — partly reflecting the economic recession —increased in 2011 and subsequently decreased again in 2012 and 2013. EU GHG emissions from international aviation are lower than the emissions from international maritime transport, but they were increasing more rapidly until 2007. The average annual EU-28 growth rates in emissions since 1990 were 3% for aviation and 1% for maritime transport. CO2 emissions from international transport reached 271 million tonnes CO2-equivalent in 2013.

For detailed information on emissions from international bunkers see Section 3.7 of this report.

Information on recalculations
As new global warming potentials from the 2006 IPCC guidelines have been used in 2015 for CH4, N2O and fluorinated gases the recalculations in GHG emissions are not only the result of methodological changes and revised activity data but also reflect the new global warming potentials.

Due to recalculations based on EU Member States' GHG inventories in 2015, total EU-28 1990 GHG emissions excluding LULUCF have increased in the latest submission, compared to the previous submission, by 1.0%. EU-28 GHG emissions for 2012 increased by 0.4% due to recalculations.

For detailed information on recalculations see Chapter 10 and the sector-specific recalculations.

Information on using EU ETS for national GHG inventories in EU Member States
This report also includes an analysis of the use of data and emissions reported under the EU ETS for preparing national GHG inventories. The analysis shows that most Member States used the ETS data to improve and refine the estimation and reporting of CO2 emissions from energy and industrial processes. 27 Member States indicated that they used ETS data for quality assurance/ quality control purposes and checked data consistency between both sources (Section 1.4.2). Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 and has participated in the EU ETS since January 2013. For the 2015 submission, Croatia did not use any ETS data, but has plans to improve its GHG emission estimates with ETS data.

16 Member States indicated that they directly use the verified emissions reported by installations under the ETS. 23 Member States used ETS data to improve country-specific emission factors and 22 Member States reported that they used activity data (e.g. fuel use) provided under the ETS in the national inventory. The use of ETS data improved the quality of GHG inventory data with respect to completeness (additional emission sources can be estimated for which no data were available before the EU ETS), accuracy (e.g. due to improved countryspecific emission factors), and improved allocation of emissions to CRF source categories.

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