December 14, 2021
The European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 18 percent in the spring of 2021 compared to the same period last year, as coronavirus-related lockdowns gradually eased, according to EU statistics released on Nov. 29.
Between April and June, the EU released 867 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, according to data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. Although this represented an increase from the second quarter of 2020, it was also the lowest level of any pre-pandemic quarter, according to Eurostat.
Construction and manufacturing produced the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions for the quarter, at 34 percent. Electricity comprised 19 percent, while agriculture made up 14 percent and transport services made up 8 percent. Non-transport services comprised the remaining 8 percent.
Nearly all of these statistics represented a sector-by-sector increase from the second quarter of the previous year, according to Eurostat. Household heating-based emissions increased 42 percent, while manufacturing/construction emissions rose 22 percent. Individual households’ transportation emissions also increased 25 percent during the quarter. Transportation service emissions increased 18 percent, while electricity supply emissions increased 17 percent.
The release marks the first-ever publication of quarterly emissions data from Eurostat. Throughout 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU fell 31 percent compared to 1990.
The data echo similar findings of emissions increasing compared the beginning of the pandemic. In early November, a report by the Global Carbon Project found that while fossil fuel emissions fell 5.4 percent in 2020, they are projected to increase 4.9 percent over 2021. Higher emissions from coal and natural gas in particular are projected to wipe out the reductions seen last year.
The EU has set some of the most ambitious emission reductions targets among western nations. In July, the European Commission announced a goal of reducing emissions 55 percent by the end of the decade. The target is on a tighter timeline than those of China, the world’s biggest emitter, or the U.S., the second-largest.