This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU Manager Brittany Demogenes
Best Organizational Sources: European Environmental Agency (EEA)
In order to determine the EU’s total level of emissions, the EU requires Member States to monitor their individual emissions of various greenhouse gases (GHG) and report these statistics. EU Member States are required to report emissions of seven greenhouse gases from all sectors, some of which include industrial processes, energy, land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), waste, and agriculture. These emissions statistics are then compiled by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) on behalf of the European Commission and are submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) each spring.
This compilation process occurs in five steps. First, Member States are required to submit their greenhouse gas inventories by January 15 each year to the European Commission (DG CLIMA) and the EEA. The EEA, the Joint Research Center (JRC), and Eurostat then perform initial checks on the data submitted and subsequent findings are submitted along with the draft EU GHG inventory and inventory report. Member States then check their national data in the EU GHG inventory report, respond to specific findings from the quality checks performed by the EU inventory team, and send any necessary updates to the EEA by March 15. After this, the EEA reviews final inventory submissions from Member States and prepares the final GHG inventory and inventory report by April 15 so that it can be submitted to the UNFCCC. If necessary, a resubmission is prepared by May 27. The emissions inventory spans from 1990 to the year that is two years before the current year. For example, since we are currently in 2021, the emissions inventory covers from 1990-2019.
This inventory is accessible online for the public to review and is presented in a comprehensive and easy to understand manner. Tables are used to show the breakdown of each individual country’s level of emissions, and how they have changed from 2018 to 2019. Tables also delineate the change in emissions in different sectors and of different greenhouse gases for the EU. For example, the EEA found that in 2019 total GHG emissions for the EU, excluding the LULUCF sector, amounted to 4.067 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which marked a 3.9% decrease from 2018 levels. Germany, Spain, and Poland accounted for more than half of this net reduction in emissions from 2018 to 2019. The EEA also found that almost 80% of this net reduction in emissions took place in main activity producers of heat and electricity.
Due to the very comprehensive nature of this report, it would seem that there are no obvious gaps that exist in the climate mitigation data that is gathered. However, depending on how vigorous the EEA, the JRC, and Eurostat’s monitoring is of the climate data that is provided by EU Member States, it is possible that data provided may not be fully accurate for certain countries that report false emissions statistics to portray their country in a more favorable light. Yet, since there are three notable sources that check this data, it is unlikely that data that is significantly falsified could make it into the final report without being flagged.
Regarding carbon dioxide usage in the energy sector specifically, Eurostat also provides a slightly more recent estimate for EU Member States, as it covers the period from 1990 to the year before the current year. Eurostat bases its emissions estimates off official aggregated monthly data that the Member States provide to it. It compares the aggregated monthly data it receives for the previous year to the data from two years before the current year to calculate percentage change in CO2 emissions. It then publishes a report of this data annually.
For example, in May, Eurostat released its estimates for 2020 and noted that there was a clear drop in fossil fuel consumption in the energy sector in the EU both as a whole as well as in all member countries. This was largely a result of COVID-19. Eurostat found that the largest decrease in emissions occurred in Greece, which had a drop in carbon dioxide emissions of 18.7% compared to 2019, and that the smallest decrease in emissions occurred in Malta, which only had a 1% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions compared to 2019. Eurostat also found that the largest decrease in fossil fuel consumption in all Member States was in their use of coal. Furthermore, the use of oil and oil products decreased in almost every Member State while natural gas consumption decreased in 15 Member States and either increased or stayed the same in the other 12 Member States.
As a result of Eurostat providing this in-depth and more current analysis of carbon dioxide energy usage, it appears that energy usage is the most concretely documented climate sector in the EU. However, it is not necessarily better documented than the other sectors that are documented in the EEA’s annual report, it is just the sector with the most recent estimates available.
Quality and reliability of the climate emissions data produced by the country:
Rating: **** Excellent
Extremely detailed data that is presented in a clear and comprehensible way
Four Stars (****): Outstanding
Three stars (***): Good
Two stars (**): Fair
One star (*): Poor
Ricardo Fernandez, EEA Climate Change, Energy and Transport Staff Member
Learn More Resources:
“Annual European Union Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2019 and Inventory Report 2021.” European Environment Agency, 12 Aug. 2021, www.eea.europa.eu/publications/annual-european-union-greenhouse-gas-inventory-2021.
“CO2 Emissions from Energy Use Clearly Decreased in the EU in 2020.” CO2 Emissions from Energy Use Clearly Decreased in the EU in 2020 – Products Eurostat News – Eurostat, Eurostat, 7 May 2021, ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/ddn-20210507-1.
“Emissions Monitoring & Reporting.” Climate Action – European Commission, 16 Feb. 2017, ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/progress/monitoring_en.
Image courtesy of: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/ddn-20210507-1