EU greenhouse gas emissions move upward to pre-Covid levels


EU greenhouse gas emissions move upward to pre-Covid levels


Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union in the first quarter has increased since 2020, but they remain below pre-Covid levels, according to data released by Eurostat.

The EU's statistical agency, Eurostat, tracks greenhouse gas emissions from several economic activities, including transportation, manufacturing, businesses, and households. The emissions include methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.

Each greenhouse gas is assigned a metric referred to as its global warming potential (GWP), which is used to convert greenhouse gas emissions into a measure knowned as carbon dioxide.

“Each greenhouse gas has a different capacity to cause global warming, depending on its radiative properties, molecular weight and the length of time it remains in the atmosphere,” the office explained.

Emissions have declined since the fourth quarter of 2010, when they were recorded at a high of 1,187 million tons of CO2 equivalents. In the second quarter of 2020, emissions dropped to a low of 742 million tons of CO2 equivalents due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, emissions rose to 843 million tons and 973 million respectively by the third quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. There were 1,029 million tons of emissions in the first quarter of 2022, which is only slightly less than the 1,035 million tons recorded in the same quarter of 2019, the last year before the pandemic took a toll.

“This increase is largely due to the effect of the economic rebound after the sharp decrease in activity caused by the Covid-19 crisis,” Eurostat reported.

Households accounted for 24% of most emissions, followed by utilities with 21%, manufacturing with 20%, agriculture with 12%, and transportation and storage with 10%. Transportation and storage, mining and construction were sectors with highest increases in emissions.

Geographically, all member nations except Slovakia, Finland and the Netherlands saw increased emissions. Emissions in Finland and the Netherlands have lowered by 1% and 9% over the past year, while Slovakia’s emissions remained flat.

On the other hand, countries including Bulgaria (38%), Malta (21%), and Ireland (20%) witnessed the biggest rises in emissions.

“The data obtained from air emissions accounts may subsequently feed into political decision-making, underpinning policies that target both continued economic growth and sustainable development,” Eurostat said.

Under the European Green Deal, the EU plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

According to the Global Carbon Project, the EU has reduced emissions by an average of 2.8% annually from 2000 to 2020, significantly more than any other political subdivision. However, reductions in the EU have been offset by rising emissions in China and other developing countries.

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