EU carbon market emissions (excluding aviation) fell 8.7% in 2019

The fall was largely due to a drop in emissions from power generation as coal-fired output was replaced by gas-fired generation and renewable power such as wind and solar. [Shutterstock]

Greenhouse gas emissions regulated under Europe’s carbon market fell by 8.7% last year,  according to preliminary like-for-like European Commission data examined by carbon analysts at Refinitiv.

Around 45% of the European Union’s output of greenhouse gases is regulated by the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the bloc’s flagship policy to tackle global warming by charging for the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

The Refinitiv carbon analysts’ interpretation of the data found stationary emissions covered by the scheme such as power plants and factories, totalled 1.536 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), down 8.7% on the previous year.

The fall was largely due to a drop in emissions from power generation as coal-fired output was replaced by gas-fired generation and renewable power such as wind and solar.

“This significant drop in carbon emissions… shows how successful the EU ETS and related pollution policies have been in phasing out coal and lignite in the power sector,” Carbon Market Watch policy director Sam Van den plas said.

Power shift: EU coal output falls 24% in 2019

Global warming emissions from the power sector fell by 12% last year, led by a steep decline in coal power generation, which was replaced half by natural gas and half by renewables, according to fresh data published on Wednesday (5 February).

Emissions from power and heating generation fell by 14%, to 766.9 million tonnes, the analysts said on Wednesday.

The fall in emissions in the industrial sector was, however, much lower, with a 2.7% drop to 768.8 million tonnes.

The analysts said that although the data was incomplete, with around 90% of stationary installations reporting, the overall reduction figure was unlikely to change significantly.

Emissions from the largest-emitting airlines in the ETS increased last year, NGO Transport & Environment’s (T&E) analysis of the EU data showed.

Of the 20 largest-emitting airlines in the carbon market, 14 had higher emissions last year. These 14 carriers together emitted 37.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2019, an increase of 1.5 million tonnes from in 2018, T&E said.

The EU carbon market covers emissions from flights within the European Economic Area.

Europe’s domestic air travel emissions increase again

Greenhouse gas output from plane journeys within the EU rose again in 2019, according to new data from the European Commission, but that growth is likely to stop for a while, with 2020 set to be a lean year for airlines because of coronavirus.

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