Emissions reallocated to end-users

Photo: CEE Bankwatch Network CC BY-NC-SA

Industries and homes together account for more than half of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, when emissions are aggregated at end-user level.

A significant part – 40 per cent – of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the energy sector in reports to the UNFCCC, however all these emissions can also be seen as indirect emissions from other sectors.

For example if your home is heated by district heating from a large thermal plant, carbon emissions from the production of that energy is reported under the energy sector to the UNFCCC. If your neighbour instead has installed a gas boiler for heating, the corresponding carbon emissions will be reported under the residential sector. This kind of traditional breakdown by sector is useful when you want to monitor overall greenhouse gas emissions targets, but less useful when you want to understand the drivers behind changes in emissions.

In December the European Environment Agency published a report, End-user GHG emissions from energy, in which both the direct emissions and the indirect emissions are compiled.  The indirect emissions were in 2010 distributed fairly evenly between industrial, commercial and residential sectors (figure), while transport and other sectors account for a smaller share of the indirect emissions.

Figure: End-use greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in EU‑27 in 2010

The report specifically focuses on the changes in emissions between 2009 and 2010.  The total emissions increased in this period after several years of reductions. Industry accounted for about half of the energy-related increase in emissions, (40 per cent direct and 10 per cent indirect) mainly due to the economic recovery after the recession in 2008. Above all, there was a significant increase in the production of crude iron.

Total greenhouse gas emissions in the residential and commercial sector were also higher in 2010 than in 2009, since the winter was colder and hence the demand for heating was higher. The use of residential electricity also increased significantly between the two years.

The transport sector was the only area where energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, both direct and indirect, decreased in 2010.

The report also presents the direct and indirect emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx). For NOx, energy sector emissions account for 21 per cent of the total and are distributed relatively evenly between the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. However the bulk (52 per cent) of the NOx emissions are direct emissions from the transport sector. For SOx the indirect emissions are greater, at 62 per cent, but are distributed between the different sectors in much the same way as the indirect NOx emissions.

Kajsa Lindqvist

Source: End-user GHG emissions from energy, EEA Technical report No 18/2012

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