In 2021, when most of the COVID-19 containment measures were lifted by the EU Member States, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the EU (mainly oil and oil products, natural gas, coal and peat) increased by 6.3% compared with the previous year. CO2 emissions from energy use are a major contributor to global warming and account for some 75% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Climate conditions (e.g. cold/long winter or hot summer), economic growth, size of the population, transport and industrial activities are some factors that influence emissions.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels originate in the country where the fuels are burned for electricity generation, transport, steel production etc., which consequently impacts imports and exports of energy products. For example, importing coal for electricity generation leads to an increase in emissions in the importing country. In contrast, electricity imports do not affect the importing country’s emissions, as these are reported in the exporting country where electricity was produced, Eurostat reports.
Biggest increases in CO2 emissions from energy use in Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovakia and Italy, decreases in Portugal and Finland
According to Eurostat estimates, CO2 emissions grew in 2021 in almost all EU Member States, with the largest increase in Bulgaria (+18.0%), followed by Estonia (+13.1%), Slovakia (+11.4%) and Italy (+10.6%). The only two countries with an estimated decrease in CO2 emissions are Portugal (-5.5%) and Finland (-1.5%).
In 2021, the increase in CO2 emissions was mainly due to the rising use of solid fossil fuels (which contributed to over 50% of the increase). Liquid fossil fuels were responsible for over 29% of the increase, whereas 21% can be attributed to natural gas. The reduced use of peat slightly alleviated the increase in CO2 emissions.
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