Greenhouse gas emissions from operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) increased by 7.3% in 2021 compared with 2020 levels. The increase results from an 8.3% increase in emissions from the power sector, an increase of 5.2% from main industrial sectors and an increase of 8.7% from aviation. Compared with 2019 emissions, however emissions from the power sector have decreased by 7.3%, while for main industrial sector they have decreased by 1.9% and by 61% for aviation.
Emissions from stationary installations increased considerably
Verified emissions of greenhouse gases from stationary installations (power plants and manufacturing installations) amounted to 1,311 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent in 2021. This is an increase of 7.3% compared with 2020, but still a decrease of 4.4% compared with 2019.
In 2021, the power sector witnessed an 8.3% increase, mainly driven by a shift from the use of natural gas to coal related to the evolution of fossil fuel prices and a higher electricity demand in the context of to the recovery after the pandemic. However, overall power sector emissions are still 7.3% below 2019 levels, for a very similar level of electricity demand between 2019 and 2021.
Since 2020, emissions from industry increased by an average of 5.2%, with high increases observed in most sectors, including iron and steel (10.4%) and chemicals (20.8%). This increase reflects the economic recovery after the pandemic (EU-27 GDP increased by 5.3% between 2020 and 2021). Industrial emissions, however, are 1.9% below 2019 while total levels of industrial production are very similar in both years. Overall industrial GHG emissions thus remain on a downward trend, although more effort is needed to reach the EU’s long-term climate targets.
Airlines' emissions: aviation emissions increased as the sector recovers from the pandemic
Under the EU ETS Directive, all commercial and non-commercial aircraft operators with significant emissions are accountable for their emissions from flights within the European Economic Area (EEA) (The limitation of the EU ETS to flights within the EEA from 2013 was agreed in Regulation No.421/2014 and extended until the end of 2023 by Regulation (EU) 2017/2392.) and from flights to Switzerland and to the United Kingdom.
Verified emissions from aircraft operators amounted to 26.87 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021. This was approximately 8.7% higher than the 24.71 million tonnes reported in 2020, but still 61% lower than the 68.2 million tonnes of CO2 in pre-pandemic 2019. Important to also note that as from 2021, the aviation ETS, no longer covers flights arriving from the United Kingdom, while these flights were still reported in 2020. Taking this scope change into account, emissions from aviation covered by the current EU ETS scope increased by approximately 30% compared with 2020 and decreased by 50% as compared with 2019.
Under the EU ETS, all operators (stationary installations and airlines) were required to report their verified emissions for the year of 2021 by 31 March 2022. Reporting has been above 95% for most sectors and countries. The verified emissions data was published on the website of the European Union Transaction Log (EUTL) on 1 April 2022.
For more information:
- Publication date
- 25 April 2022
- Directorate-General for Climate Action