Even as UNFCCC and the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree upon the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 50%, disagreement remains on how best to measure this progress and with which indicators. Universal measures for emissions and emission proxy indicators are relatively sparse and most of them are reported on an annual basis only. Of the 45 indicators specific to Climate Change officially published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, almost all of them are expressed or updated on an annual basis.
Fortunately, quarterly greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union became available for the first time as of late 2021. These estimates include indicators that measure greenhouse gasses in three ways and are available by country.
- Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions measured in thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents
- Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions measured in tonnes per habitants
- Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions expressed in percentage change compared to the same period in the previous year
Quarterly greenhouse gas emission estimates allow European countries individually and as a bloc to assess their progress towards net-zero emissions by 2050. These quarterly estimates began in 2010 and have already revealed some interesting insights for France.
For example, France’s lowest quarterly value occurred during Q2 of 2020 with a total of 83, 310 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This came at a critical point within the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a dampening of activity across a broad spectrum of economic sectors responsible for greenhouse emissions. This is a significant -23% change compared to the same period in the previous year when France emitted 108, 770 tonnes of CO2-equivalent in Q2 of 2019. As the economy rebounded however from this first year of the pandemic so did France’s emissions which rose to 104, 361 tonnes of CO2-equivalent in Q2 of 2021, a 25% change from its lowest recorded value in Q2 of 2020. As France and the EU recovers further from the COVID-19 crisis, what will the emissions cost of this recovery be in Q2 of 2022?
Name and type of the performance indicators
All three indicators measure greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases all of which are measured in thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents. These carbon dioxide equivalents attempt to convert the impact of multiple greenhouse gases into a single metric of warming.
The reliability of these indicators and how they impact your country’s emissions.
All three indicators measure emissions arising from a designated set of economic activities including agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, water supply; sewage, waste management and remediation activities, construction, transportation and storage, services (except transportation and storage) plus total activities by households. They constitute therefore a best-effort summation of France’s emissions and are reliably complete in so far as they encompass all the sectors of the economy and households.
To gain a fuller picture of France’s greenhouse gas emissions and facilitate a stronger cross-country analysis it is important to understand not only absolute emission levels but per capita emissions as well. Per capita emissions provide more nuance to the assumption that the largest countries with the largest economies and populations are also the largest emitters. While often the case, not all of the countries with the highest total emissions also have the highest per capita emissions which speaks to differing rates of consumption and energy-intensive lifestyles across countries.
Finally, the percentage change of emissions over time affords valuable insight into how specific events in time such as the COVID-19 pandemic impact France’s quarterly emission levels.
The data used to measure this indicator over time, and the frequency with which this data will be updated.
The data for every indicator is published quarterly and begins with complete time series starting in Q1 of 2010.
The data source used to access the data for each indicator
The data for all three indicators are provided by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
The baseline measure (amount) of each indicator that exists right now, and that we can use to make baseline comparisons.
The latest baseline measures for all three indicators in Q4 of 2021 are as follows:
|PERFORMANCE INDICATOR||BASELINE VALUE||DATE|
|Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions in France measured in thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents.||
97, 964 tonnes of CO2-equivalent
Q3 of 2021
|Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions in France measured in tonnes per habitants||
1.44 tonnes per capita
Q3 of 2021
|Quarterly greenhouse gas emissions in France expressed in percentage change compared to same period in previous year.||
+2.2% change compared to same period in the previous year
Q3 of 2021
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Liana Mehring