EU Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Comprehensive but Infrequent Releases of Data

Rating C

As part of the EU Climate Monitoring Mechanism, EU Member States are required to continuously improve their national inventory systems by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirements and to “ensure the timeliness, transparency, accuracy, consistency, comparability, and completeness of their greenhouse gas inventories.” The European Union maintains an inventory system that ensures the accuracy and consistency of national inventories through quality assurance mechanisms and the implementation of procedures that estimate any data missing from national inventories.

By January 15 each year, Member States are required to report preliminary data to the European Commission of the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for the year two years before the current year (hence, in 2023, Member States had to report their emissions from 2021). The European Commission performs an initial check for the accuracy of the data submitted by Member States and sends the results of that check to Member States within six weeks. EU Member States must report their final emissions data to the European Commission and answer any questions the European Commission raised about their emissions data by March 15 each year. By April 15 each year, Member States must submit their national inventories containing information submitted to the European Commission to the UNFCCC. The European Commission also compiles a European Union greenhouse gas inventory and a report submitted to the UNFCCC on April 15 each year. The European Environmental Agency (EEA) assists the European Union in compiling the EU’s approximated greenhouse gas inventory. It publishes the inventory data provided to the UNFCCC on its website each year.

The EU’s most recent greenhouse gas inventory is from 2021, when the EU emitted 3,241,716 kt CO2 eq. This marks a 6% increase from the EU’s 2020 emissions, which was 3,062,562 kt CO2 eq, but a decrease from the EU’s 2019 emissions, which was 3,343,976 kt CO2 eq. Given how heavily industry and transportation were impacted by COVID in 2020, which led to notably low emissions, the EU showed steady improvements overall in decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions between 2017-2021.

Germany produced the most significant emissions in the EU in 2021 (782,655 kt CO2 eq), which is unsurprising given that Germany accounts for 26% of the EU’s production. France produced the second largest emissions in 2021 (406,163 kt CO2 eq), followed by Italy (395,118 kt CO2 eq).

The most significant portion of the EU’s emissions comprises CO2, with 2021 CO2 emissions totaling 2,817,728 kt CO2 eq. The second most significant contributor to emissions in the EU in 2021 was methane (CH4), with 401,659 kt CO2 eq of methane being produced. The other contributors to the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions included N2O, NF3, HFCs, PFCs, fluorinated gases, and SF6.

Energy supply is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the EU (901,625 kt CO2 eq), followed by domestic transport (782,100 kt CO2 eq) and industry (757,474 kt CO2 eq). However, emissions from public electricity and heat production have primarily decreased between 2017-2021, with a slight increase occurring between 2020 and 2021. Road transportation emissions also followed a decreasing trend between 2018 and 2021 but to a lesser extent than public electricity and heat production. Livestock emissions stayed relatively static during this time frame.

While livestock is a more minor contributor to emissions than public electricity and heat production, and road transportation, the fact that emissions in livestock have stayed consistent since the early 2000s suggests that the EU should focus on decreasing livestock emissions by encouraging individuals to adopt a more plant-based diet and preparing feed in a way that decreases animal methane emissions. While the transition to clean energy sources is pivotal in all EU Member States, additional innovation efforts and national and EU funding for the green energy transition will also be especially important in Germany since it produces close to twice the amount of emissions as France, the second largest emitter in the EU.

Moreover, quicker turnaround times for Member States reporting emissions data to the European Commission and the EEA releasing this data online would be beneficial. Reports less than two years old would reflect current emissions trends and benefit the EU and its Member States more as they craft new environmental policies.

Rating: C-produces comprehensive reports that are no more than two years old

This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU author Brittany Demogenes.


European Commission Staff Contacts who work on Compiling EU Greenhouse Gas Inventories:

Maros Sefcovic- Executive Vice President of DG CLIMA-

Rudy Van Horenbeek- Administration, Financial Affairs and Human Resources of DG CLIMA-



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