EU carbon emissions drop 2.5% in 2011

07 September 2012 - 10:54 By Sapa-AFP
Air pollution. File picture
Air pollution. File picture
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

European greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.5% in 2011 over 2010, as a mild winter and increase in renewable energy use offset a rise in coal consumption and economic activity, estimates released on Friday said.

In 2010, emissions by the 27 European Union (EU) states rose by 2.4% compared to 2009 levels, the Copenhagen-headquartered European Environment Agency (EEA) said.

Among the 15 western European economies which preceded the EU's ‘Big Bang’ membership expansion in 2004, emissions fell back by 3.5% in 2011.

That brought the EU-15 emissions down to 14.1% below 1990, well on track for meeting a collective 8% reduction by the end of 2012 under the UN's Kyoto Protocol.

The EU-27 does not have a joint target under Kyoto, but they have promised unilaterally to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020.

At the end of last year, their emissions were 17.5% below this benchmark, the EEA said.

The estimates exclude data for carbon "sinks" – forests whose carbon absorption can be counted against emissions targets under Kyoto rules – and emissions from aviation and shipping.

In August, the US said energy-related local carbon emissions fell by 2.4% in 2011 over 2010, partly due to a warmer winter that pared heating needs and greater use of natural gas compared with coal.

According to UN figures issued in November 2011, worldwide greenhouse-gas levels rose to a record high in 2010.