EU economy greenhouse gas emissions: -4 % in Q4 2022

In the fourth quarter of 2022, EU economy greenhouse gas emissions totalled 938 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents (CO2-eq), a 4 % decrease compared with the same quarter of 2021 (978 million tonnes of CO2-eq). This decrease is accompanied by some economic rebound, as shown by the 1.5 % increase in the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared with the same quarter of 2021. It is also positive that compared with the pre-pandemic fourth quarter of 2019, EU economy greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 6 % (from 994 to 938 million tonnes of CO2-eq).

This information comes from data on quarterly estimates for greenhouse gas emissions by economic activity published by Eurostat today. Quarterly estimates of greenhouse gas emissions complement quarterly socio-economic data, such as GDP or employment. This article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the economic sectors responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions were ‘manufacturing’ and ‘households’ (each with 21%), ‘electricity, gas supply’ (20%), ‘agriculture’ (13%), followed by ‘transportation and storage’ (11%).

Data show that compared with the fourth quarter of 2021, emissions decreased in 6 out of 9 economic sectors, varying between -0.3 % in the ‘water supply; sewerage, waste management’ and ‘construction’ sectors and -9.7 % in the ‘electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’ sector. The only 3 sectors in which emissions increased were ‘transportation and storage’ (+7.0 %), ‘services (except transport and storage)’ (+1.6 %) and ‘mining and quarrying’ (+1.0 %).

Greenhouse gas emissions down in 23 EU countries 

Emissions in the fourth quarter of 2022 decreased in almost all EU countries when compared with the same quarter of 2021, except for Ireland (+12.3 %), Latvia (+6.8 %), Malta (+6.4 %) and Denmark (+1.9 %), where they increased. This group of EU members also saw their GDP increase.

Among the EU countries that reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the largest decreases were registered in Slovenia (-15.9 %), Netherlands (-9.9 %) and Slovakia (-6.9 %).

Of the 23 EU countries that saw a decrease in emissions, only 5 recorded a decrease in their GDP (Estonia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Finland, and Sweden), meaning most managed to decrease emissions while growing their GDP. 

For more information:

Methodological notes:

  • Metadata on quarterly greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gases cause climate change. The so-called ‘Kyoto basket’ of greenhouse gases includes carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases. They are expressed in a common unit, CO2-equivalents, as defined in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).
  • The data presented here are estimates by Eurostat, except for the Netherlands, which provided their own estimates. Eurostat’s methodology differs from the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions under the UN rules, which provides annual data on EU progress towards its targets. A main methodological difference is an attribution to individual countries of international transport and the corresponding air emissions. The Eurostat estimates include the international transport emissions in the total for each country, according to the international System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA)

  The EU inventory is based on annual inventory reports by the Member States and is prepared and quality checked by the European Environment Agency on behalf of the Commission and submitted to the UNFCCC each spring. The period covered by the inventory starts in 1990 and runs up until 2 years before the current year (e.g., in 2021 the inventories cover greenhouse gas emissions up to 2019). According to the European Climate Law, the EU’s climate target is to achieve -55% net reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.

  EU countries are required to monitor their emissions under reporting rules based on internationally agreed obligations in line with guidelines from the IPCC. The reporting covers emissions of seven greenhouse gases from all sectors: energy, industrial processes, land use, land use change & forestry (LULUCF), waste, agriculture, etc. As parties to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, the EU and Member States report annually on their greenhouse gas emissions to the UN (‘greenhouse gas inventories’).