The EEA said preliminary figures show emissions fell even more sharply – 3.5% - in the 15 countries that were among the original EU signatories of the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international agreement that committed developed nations to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels.
Under Kyoto, the EU agreed to cut emissions by 8% and its own mandate calls for reducing emissions 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. The EEA says overall emissions in the EU last year were 17.5% lower than 1990 levels.
However, EEA figures showed that greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.4% in 2010 despite the EU’s commitments for broad reductions in pollution from transport, manufacturing and energy generation.
The Copenhagen-based agency credited the 2011 reduction to lower heating demand and the rising use of wind, solar and other renewable energy. But a slower economic growth in most EU countries almost certainly played a role in the decline.
Emissions from households and the service sector fell 3.1% in 2011, while those from the transport sector fell 1.8%.
According to the preliminary figures for 2011, carbon dioxide emissions fell from 5,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 1990 to about 4,700 million tonnes in 2011 for the EU-27, and 4,300 to about 3,600 for the EU-15.