According to the European Environment Agency, the European greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions globally decreased in 2005.
Since 1990, the emissions decreased by 7.9 percent in the EU-27. This is indeed good news.
However, in the EU-15 (the fifteen first countries to have join the European Union : Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom) the emissions decreased by just two percent since 1990.
The key points of the final report are:
- EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 0.8% (35.2 million tonnes CO2 equivalents) between 2004 and 2005 – mainly due to decreasing CO2 emissions of 0.7 % (26 million tonnes).
- EU-15: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 2.0% in 2005 compared to the base year under the Kyoto Protocol.
- EU-27: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 0.7% (37.9 million tonnes CO2 equivalents) between 2004 and 2005.
- EU-27: Emissions of GHGs decreased by 7.9% compared to 1990 levels.
 The base year for most greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol is 1990 for the EU-15, but almost all Member States use 1995 as the base year for fluorinated or ‘F-gases’
The main contributors to this global decrease of emissions are Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. Indeed, the EEA states the following :
- Germany reduced emissions by 2.3% or 23.5 million tonnes CO2 equivalents: a shift from coal to gas in the production of public electricity and heat was one of the main reasons for the decrease in emissions. In addition, emissions from road transportation and from households and services declined substantially.
- Finland reduced emissions by 14.6% or 11.9 million tonnes CO2 equivalents: emission reductions were mainly due to a substantial decrease in the use of fossil fuels in the production of public electricity and heat mainly due to electricity imports. Coal use, in particular, decreased.
- The Netherlands reduced emissions by 2.9% or 6.3 million tonnes CO2 equivalents: less fossil fuel was used for the production of public electricity and heat. The household and service sector used less fuel due to a warmer winter.
Meanwhile, French total emissions decreased by half a percent between 2004 and 2005.
According to this article in Actu-Environnement, Spanish emissions increased by 3.6 percent between 2004 and 2005. This is explained by the fact that Spain relied more on fossil fuels to produce public electricity and heat. Austrian emissions increased during the same period by two percent.
As one can see with the given elements, decreasing the use of coal to produce electricity and shifting to a cleaner solution like natural gas is a good idea. Superior cuts could have been achieved if the above-mentioned countries would have shifted to nuclear instead as it emits even less carbon dioxide than natural gas.
To conclude, one can indeed be happy of such results on a global EU scale. Now the countries where emissions increased have to work on decreasing their emissions. Among these countries, we find Spain and Austria as we saw but also Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.
To access the full final report, please report to the official website of the European Environment Agency. You can also download it directly from here.
Sources (in French) :