Increased power production drives EU greenhouse gas emissions up in 2003


Emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases from the European Union have increased in 2003, after having fallen in 2002. Emissions in the 15 old member states (EU-15) increased by 53 million tonnes (1.3%) between 2002 and 2003. Total EU-25 emissions increased by 1.5% - says the latest annual report on greenhouse gas emissions from the European Environment Agency.

Between 2002 and 2003, EU-15 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) - which makes up over 80% of all EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions - increased by 59 million tonnes (1.8%). Since 1990 CO2 emissions in the EU-15 have increased by 3.4%.

The emission increase in 2003 was mainly caused by an increase in power production using coal. The colder weather in the first quarter in several EU countries also contributed to an increased use of fossil fuels to heat homes and offices. At the same time, since 1990 - the base year of the Kyoto Protocol - greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-15 have decreased by 1.7%.

Five-year average emissions between 1999 and 2003 are currently 2.9% below the base year emissions.

Since 2003, a number of EU and national policies and measures have been implemented, which will help progress towards the Kyoto target. The EU emissions trading scheme, launched on 1 January 2005, is expected to result in further cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the coming years.

In addition, some member states are starting to take advantage of other options, available under the Kyoto Protocol, in order toreduce emissions. These options allow countries to achieve part of their targets by investing in emissions-saving projects in other countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol - or by undertaking projects that sequester CO2 in forests or agricultural land.

New projections of future emissions by member states should become available over the coming months.

Report: Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2003 and inventory report 2005


Changes in greenhouse gas emissions in EU-15 - Sectors

The 53 million tonnes increase in EU-15 emissions (2002 and 2003) reflected higher greenhouse gas emissions from energy industries (+24m / 2.1%) - mainly due to a 5% growth of thermal power production and a 5% increase of coal consumption in thermal power stations.The increase in thermal power production was driven by higher electricity consumption (+3%).

The largest emissions increases from electricity and heat production were in the UK (+10m), Finland (+7m) and Germany (almost +6m).

Substantial increases of coal consumption were the main reason. Greenhouse gas emissions from households and the services sector increased considerably (+18 million tonnes or +2.8%) - partly due to colder weather in first quarter of 2003. Emissions from industry increased by 17 million tonnes (+2.1%), which was mainly due to higher emissions from iron and steel production - as well as refrigeration and air conditioning.

Transport emissions increased by 6 million tonnes (0.7%) between 2002 and 2003. Germany reduced emissions from road transport for the fourth consecutive year - which partly offset emission increases from that sector in other EU-15 Member States.

Emissions in the agriculture sector decreased, mainly due to declining number of cattle and lower emissions from agricultural soils.Other reductions were achieved for fugitive emissions from coal mining and from natural gas. Emission from the waste sector has decreased due to increased methane recovery and less waste land filled.


Changes in greenhouse gas emissions in EU-15 - Member States

Between 2002 and 2003, Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom saw the largest emission increases in absolute terms (15 million tonnes, 8 million tonnes and 7 million tonnes respectively).

Italian emissions increased mainly from households and services by 6 million tonnes (+8%) and from manufacturing industries by 5 million tonnes (+6%) - in particular in iron and steel and cement production.

In the UK, emissions from public electricity and heat production increased by 10 million tonnes (+6%) - due to a strong increase of coal consumption in thermal power stations (+12%). In addition, emissions from manufacturing industries increased by 4.5 million tonnes (+5%). These emission increases were partly offset by declining emissions in household and services and coal mining.

The increase of emissions in Finland was driven by a +7 million tonnes (27%) of CO2 from electricity and heat production. This was mainly due to a 45% increase of coal and peat combustion in thermal power plants. Declining electricity imports and hydropower production - combined with a sharp increase of electricity exports - were driving the thermal power production in Finland. In total Finland's emissions increased by 10.8% from 2002 to 2003.

Between 2002 and 2003, Denmark and Austria also saw large relative increases in their emissions - +7.3% and + 5.9% respectively. The main reason for the large emission increase in Denmark, was an increase in electricity exports associated with a sharp increase of coal consumption in thermal power production. In Austria, the main factors were low hydro power production (which was offset by thermal power production), a further large growth in road fuel sales and comparatively cold temperatures in the first quarter.

On the positive side, 2003 saw emission reductions from Portugal (-4.5 million tonnes or -5.3%) and Ireland (-2 million tonnes or -2.6%). In Portugal a sharp increase in hydropower production was a main reason.

In Ireland, the decline is the result of a number factors, including -

  • the closure of Ireland's only nitric acid plant and its associated ammonia production facility
  • CO2 reduction in electricity generation through the greater use of cleaner fuels - and
  • continued decreases in CH4 and N2O emissions in agriculture.


Figures and tables

The following figures and table give details - for the EU-15 - of trends in emissions of the six greenhouse gases up to 2003. Emissions from international aviation and shipping and emissions from/removals by land use change and forestry, are not covered.


Figure 1: Total EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in relation to the Kyoto target (source: European Environment Agency, 2005)

Notes: The linear target path is not intended as an approximation of past and future emission trends. It provides a measure of how close the EC emissions in 2002 are to a linear path of emissions reductions from 1990 to the Kyoto target for 20082012 - assuming that only domestic measures will be used. Therefore, it does not deliver a measure of (possible) compliance of the EC with its GHG targets in 2008-2012, but aims at evaluating overall EC GHG emissions in 2002. The unit is index points with base year emissions being 100.

GHG emission data for the EC as a whole, do not include emissions and removals from LUCF. In addition, no adjustments for temperature variations or electricity trade are considered. For the fluorinated gases, the EC base year emissions is the sum of Member States' emissions in the respective base years.

13 Member States have chosen to select 1995 as their base year under the Kyoto Protocol - Finland and France have chosen to use 1990. Therefore, the EC base year estimates for fluorinated gas emissions, are the sum of 1995 emissions for 13 Member States and 1990 emissions for Finland and France.

The Kyoto target is a five-year average target. This is the reason for plotting the latest five-year average available (1999-2003), in addition to the GHG emission trends 1990-2003.


Table 1: Greenhouse gas emissions trends and Kyoto Protocol targets for 2008-2012 (source: European Environment Agency, 2005)


  1. The base year for CO2, CH4 and N2O is 1990. For the fluorinated gases, 13 Member States have chosen to select 1995 as the base year, whereas Finland and France have chosen 1990. As the EC inventory is the sum of Member States' inventories, the EC base year estimates for fluorinated gas emissions are the sum of 1995 emissions for 13 Member States and 1990 emissions for Finland and France.
  2. Malta and Poland did not provide GHG emission estimates for 2003, therefore the data provided in this table is based on gap filling.

Note: Malta and Cyprus do not have Kyoto Protocol targets.


Figure 2: Absolute change in GHG emissions 2002-2003 in EU-15 by sector (source: European Environment Agency, 2005)


  • 'Energy industries' includes 'Public electricity and heat production' 'Petroleum refining' and 'Manufacture of solid fuels and other energy industries';
  • 'Industry' includes energy related emissions from 'Manufacturing industries' and emission from 'Industrial processes';
  • 'Other' includes mainly 'Fugitive emissions from fuels', emissions from 'Solvent and other product use'.


Figure 3: Absolute change in GHG emissions 2002-2003 for EU-15 Member States (source: European Environment Agency, 2005



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