Global GHG emissions continue to be dominated by fossil carbon dioxide emissions ©Fotolia VanderWolf
Global GHG emissions continue to be dominated by fossil carbon dioxide emissions

Global carbon dioxide emissions stalled for third year in a row

Russia, China, U.S. and Japan further decreased carbon dioxide emissions from 2015 to 2016.

The annual assessment of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) and the Netherlands' Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) confirmed that carbon dioxide emissions have stalled for the third year in a row.

The report provides updated results on the continuous monitoring of the three main GHGs: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

According to JRC, global GHG emissions continue to be dominated by fossil carbon dioxide emissions, although those have trended downward since 2012 and were stalled for the third year in a row in 2016.

Russia, China, the U.S. and Japan further decreased their carbon dioxide emissions from 2015 to 2016, while the European Union's emissions remained stable with respect to the previous year, and India's emissions continued to increase.

Other GHGs keep creeping up

Information on the other two GHGs, methane and nitrous oxide, is only available until 2012, because international statistics on agricultural activities — the main source of these emissions — are not updated as frequently as on energy and industry-related activities.

Uncertainty is also greater for these sources than for carbon dioxide emissions, JRC said.

However, the data until 2012 showed a steady increase in global GHG emissions, with an overall increase of 91% from 1970 to 2012.

Methane is mainly generated by agricultural activities, the production of coal and gas as well as waste treatment and disposal. Nitrous oxide is mainly emitted by agricultural soil activities and chemical production.

In the EU, 60% of methane and nitrous oxide emissions are emitted by six countries: Germany, the U.K., France, Poland, Italy and Spain.

The upward trend in methane and nitrous oxide emissions is also visible in the U.S., China, Japan and India, which all recorded increasing GHG emissions, JRC reported.

Europe's downward trend stalling

Over the past two decades, the 28 EU member countries have steadily decreased carbon dioxide emissions, which still represent two-thirds of the EU's total GHG emissions. In 2016, the EU's carbon dioxide emissions were 20.8% below the levels in 1990 and 17.9% below the levels in 2005. Since 2015, the EU's carbon dioxide emissions have stabilized, representing 9.6% of global emissions.

The report is based on the JRC's Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, which is unique in its space and time coverage as well as its completeness and consistency of emissions compilations for multiple pollutants: GHGs, air pollutants and aerosols.

The new report contains country-specific fact sheets for 216 countries. The fact sheets show the evolution of country-level carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2016 and the evolution of country-level GHG emissions from 1970 to 2012.

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