Why did GHG emissions decrease in the EU between 1990 and 2012?


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Total GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) in the EU decreased substantially since 1990, reaching their lowest level in 2012. The EU emitted 4,544 million tonnes of CO2 eq. in 2012, accounting for less than 10% of global GHG emissions1. Figure 1 shows total greenhouse gas emissions in the period 1990– 2012, both in the EU-15 (which is collectively a party to the Kyoto Protocol) and in the EU-28.

In 2012, EU-15 emissions were 15.1 % below the base year under the Kyoto Protocol (2). That constituted a net reduction of 646 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents. The average reduction between 2008 and 2012 compared to base year stood at 11.8%. Total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-28 were 19.2 % below 1990 in 2012 — a net reduction of 1082 million tonnes of CO2-eq (3).

This paper briefly analyses the major factors that accounted for decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions excluding land use, land use changes and forestry (LULUCF) in the EU-28 between 1990 and 2012. The paper commences with an overview of EU trends, followed by summaries of the contributions of individual Member States, greenhouse gas types, and main sectors. This section continues with a more detailed analysis of the main sources of emissions, including the different factors and policies that have contributed to the GHG emission trends in the EU between 1990 and 2012. It then analyses the contribution of other factors such as population levels, economic output, renewable energy consumption, and energy and carbon intensity. It concludes with an overview of the effect of GDP on GHG emissions4.

This analysis is by and large based on GHG inventory data reported by Member States for the compilation of the EU’s GHG inventory. See Annex 6 for an overview on the institutional set up at EU level to ensure compliance with the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

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