Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office, has announced (3 May) that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion went up by 0.7 percent last year compared to previous year. CO2 emissions are a major contributor to global warming, accounting for about 80 percent of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide is emitted through human activities, influenced by factors such as climate conditions, economic growth, size of the population, transport and industrial activities. The compound is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth’s carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals).
CO2 emissions went in most EU countries in 2015. The highest increases were recorded in Slovakia (+9.5%), Portugal (+8.6%) and Hungary (+6.7%), followed by Belgium (+4.7%) and Bulgaria (+4.6%). Decreases were registered in 8 countries – Malta (-26.9%), Estonia (-16.0%), Denmark (-9.9%), Finland (-7.4%) and Greece (-5.0%).
There are several initiatives to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases throughout the block. Eurostat emphasized that EU imports and exports of energy products also have an impact on CO2 emissions in the countries where fossil fuels are burned. For instance, emissions increase when coal is imported but when electricity is imported, since it has no direct impact on emissions in the importing countries as these would be reported in the exporting countries where it is actually produced.
A cut in greenhouse emissions is one of EU’s key targets for 2020. The block is aiming to decrease them by 20 percent compared with 1990 and by at least 40 percent by 2030. Other goals include an increased consumption of renewable energy and an increase in energy efficiency.