French CO2 emissions increased in 2013, study finds

CO2 emission

CO2 emissions in France [Loupasc/Flickr]

France saw its CO2 emissions increase by 0.6% in 2013, despite EU28 emissions decreasing by 2.5%. EURACTIV France reports.

According to a study by Eurostat on carbon dioxide emissions in Europe, French emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased in 2013. The average change for the 28 EU member states was a 2.5% reduction in CO2 emissions. CO2 is the main contributor to global warming and accounts for approximately 80% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions.

French emissions increased by two million tonnes (0.6%) in 2013. This comes just one year before Paris is set to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.

Denmark, Estonia, Portugal and even Germany came out worse than France, but most states can explain the increase on energy variations. This is especially true for Denmark, which still relies on coal energy to back up its wind turbines. In Germany, turning away from nuclear energy has pushed energy producers to return to coal and gas in the short term.

Coal in the hot spot

According to Eurostat experts contacted by EURACTIV France, the increase in French carbon emissions is due to an increase in coal burning (coal imports increased from 2012 to 2013).

The fall in coal prices on the international market has made it an affordable resource for energy production. France is the eighth biggest producer of energy in the world and one of the biggest European exporters. Most of its production comes from nuclear energy.

However, during periods of peak consumption, the use of coal-fired and gas power plants is essential.

7 countries responsible for 77% of EU CO2 emissions

The largest and most economically developed countries tend to be the largest CO2 emitters. These countries include Spain and Italy, who lowered their emissions in 2013 from 32 to 24 million tonnes of CO2. Their reductions can also be partially explained by their economic slowdowns.

Emissions in the UK fell by 11 million tonnes. The best performer was Cyprus, which recorded the greatest fall in CO2 emissions (-14.7%). Romania was close behind, managing to decrease emissions by 11 million tonnes (-14.6%). Along with Poland and the Netherlands, these countries contributed most to the positive pan-European average in 2013.

Paradoxically, European countries that are most involved in the fight against climate change did not make significant progress in terms of carbon emissions. Germany actually emitted 15 million tonnes more of CO2 in 2013 than in 2012.

Emissions in the European Union total approximately 4,600 million tonnes every year, which is equivalent to 145 tonnes per second, according to, a real-time website on ecological statistics.

In 2013, the EU, which represents 11% of world CO2 emissions, managed to reduce its total by 2.5%. This means that the EU is the most successful geographical area in lowering emissions over the past 20 years (-18% from 1990 to 2014). In recent years, the economic slowdown has contributed to this statistic by reducing electricity consumption, especially in industry.

95% less CO2 in 2050

The European Commission has proposed cutting the EU’s CO2 emissions 40% by 2030 in order to achieve an overall reduction of 80-95% by 2050.

But according to Greenpeace, the EU should raise its raise its ambitions for 2030, even if Europe is the only region in the world to have self-imposed constraints for 2020.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for climate action, agrees with Greenpeace. She believes that the EU should impose new objectives in 2030 in order to be in a good position for next year’s International climate conference in Paris.

CO2 emissions are the largest driver of global warming. The emissions are caused by certain climate conditions, economic growth, population numbers and transport and industrial activity.

  • Late 2015: United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris

European Commission



Subscribe to our newsletters