EU greenhouse gas emissions down 1.4% on 2011

The European Union's 27-Member State and Norway emitted around 1,876 million tonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gases in 2012, a decrease of 1.4% on 2011.

According to market intelligence service, Thomson Reuters, the 1,876 million tonnes of GHG emitted last year by the 27 countries that participate in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), plus Norway, fell from 1,904 Mt in 2011, which was largely due to lower industrial activity.

Thomson Reuters said that the decrease in emissions would have been greater had fuel switching from gas to coal not increased emissions in the power and heat sector last year by 44 Mt, or as much as 4%.

The increased use of coal in electricity production was a result of a 17% drop in European coal prices last year.

Thomson Reuters Point Carbon senior analyst Bjorn Inge Vik, said: “Although the reduction in emissions last year was less than the previous year, this was in large part due to higher emissions as a result of fuel switching rather than to a slowdown in economic contraction, suggesting that the EU is still a long way from recovery”.

Last year, emissions related to industrial activity fell by 51 Mt, or as much as 5%, with slowdown in output especially severe in the cement sector, where production fell by 13% year on year.

Construction activity dropped 5% while crude steel production was down 3% year on year. Activity in the remaining sectors was largely in line with the previous year.

In addition, last year’s emissions came in 346 Mt below the 2012 EU ETS cap, the largest annual gap between supply and demand since the market’s inception.

“The scheme was oversupplied for the fourth year in a row and the seventh time in eight years, indicating that recovery has still not returned European economies to their pre-crash levels. The continuously falling emissions in the EU ETS is likely to intensify the discussions about political intervention to reduce the oversupply of allowances”, said Vik.

The two highest emitting countries within the EU ETS; Germany and the UK, saw an increase in emissions of 2 Mt (1%) and 10 Mt (5%) respectively, however this was due to increased coal-fired power generation and not to the green shoots of recovery.

Leigh Stringer

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