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20th Jan 2019

EU trend of CO2 reduction seems to have stopped

  • CO2 emissions in EU were 0.29 percent higher in 2016 than in 2014 (Photo: tonal decay)

The EU's statistical agency Eurostat announced Thursday (4 May) that CO2 emissions resulting from the EU's energy use have "slightly decreased" in 2016, compared to the year before.

But Eurostat's press release did not mention that the small decrease has not made up for the small increase in CO2 emissions the year before, and that more CO2 was emitted in 2016 than in 2014.

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Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions account for around 80 percent of all of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to potentially disastrous climate change.

In 2016, carbon emissions dropped by 0.4 percent compared to 2015, Eurostat said in a press release.

But in 2015, CO2 emissions had increased by 0.7 percent compared to 2014.

In other words, last year's CO2 emissions increased by 0.29 percent compared to 2014, which means that for the second consecutive year the EU's carbon emissions are higher than in 2014, albeit very slightly.

The flatlining contrasts with figures from 2014, when emissions dropped by 5 percent compared to the year before. In the two years before, the year-on-year decrease had also been at least 2 percent.

It was in 2014 that the EU had reached its long-term target for 2020: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent compared to 1990 - it had achieved a 22.9 percent reduction.

If the EU does not increase its CO emissions significantly, it will achieve its 2020 goal, but critics say that is not enough to help reduce the risk of global warming.

In any case, EU citizens still have a much larger carbon footprint that is 2.5 times that of inhabitants in the developing world.

Within the EU, most of the CO2 is emitted by its largest member. Last year, Germany accounted for 22.9 percent of the EU's CO2 emissions. Germany's CO2 emissions had increased by 0.7 percent compared to the year before.

Analysis

EU transport sector has a CO2 problem

Although car manufacturers are reaching their CO2 targets for their fleets, car usage has gone up in Germany, while the gap between lab results and actual fuel consumption has increased.

Investigation

After spending €587 million, EU has zero CO2 storage plants

The EU has spent at least €587 million so far on carbon capture and storage, and was willing to spend millions more. However, after a decade not a single power plant in the EU is currently using the technology.

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