EU emissions from international flights rise 1.6% in 2014 to overtake those from shipping for the first time

EU emissions from international flights rise 1.6% in 2014 to overtake those from shipping for the first time | European Environment Agency

Tue 21 June 2016 – EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 from international aviation overtook those from international shipping for the first time as they increased by 95% between 1990 and 2014 compared to shipping’s rise of 24% during the same period. Together, the two sectors accounted for around 6% of total EU GHG emissions in 2014. Compared to 2013, EU GHG emissions from international aviation rose by 1.6% in 2014 while emissions from domestic aviation fell by 0.8%. Overall GHG emissions for the 28 EU member states plus Iceland in 2014 were 24.4% below 1990 levels and decreased by 4.1% between 2013 and 2014. GHG emissions decreased in the majority of sectors, reports the European Environment Agency (EEA) in its latest annual EU GHG inventory report, with the notable exceptions of road transport – responsible for the largest increase – and international aviation and shipping.


According to data supplied by Eurocontrol to the EEA, CO2 emissions from jet kerosene used in international aviation – defined as flights that depart from one country and arrive in another – for the 28 EU states and Iceland (EU-28 + ISL) increased from 69.3 Mt in 1990 to 136.4 Mt in 2014 (see Figure 1 below). The UK had the biggest share of 2014 emissions (24%), followed by Germany (18%), France (12%) and Spain (10%), with the four countries contributing more than 60% to the total.


CO2 emissions from international shipping fell by 0.2% in 2014 compared to the previous year.


As Figure 2 shows, the increase in CO2 emissions from international aviation since 1990 has not been linear as there were falls post-9/11 and again following the economic downturn after 2008, when emissions peaked.


By contrast, emissions from civil domestic passenger and freight traffic that departs and arrives in the same country has risen by only 5% in the EU-28 + ISL since 1990 and have been on a continuous downward trajectory since 2008 (see Figure 3). France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK account for around 85% of the emissions from this source, with France’s domestic aviation emissions in 2014 (4.4 Mt) far outstripping emissions from the next highest, Spain (2.6 Mt) (see Figure 4).


Confirmation that GHG emissions from the transport sector have grown for the first time since 2007 to 1.15 Mt in 2014 comes as the European Commission prepares to release next month a strategy to decarbonise the sector, points out Brussels-based campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E).


“These numbers serve as a wake-up call to those who thought that Europe was turning the corner on its transport emissions,” said T&E Executive Director Jos Dings. “Transport is now without question Europe’s biggest climate problem.”


T&E’s Aviation & Shipping Director, Bill Hemmings, said the trends showed effective measures were urgently needed at a European level to control aviation and shipping emissions.


“For Europe simply to outsource climate policy on aviation and shipping to two UN agencies with poor track records would be a clear betrayal of the EU’s Paris commitments,” he said. “International transport needs to contribute to the EU’s 2030 climate target as all the other sectors of the economy do.”




EEA Annual GHG Inventory Report



Figure 1: EU CO2 emissions from jet kerosene used for international aviation by EU-28 + ISL (source: EEA):





Figure 2: EU CO2e emissions from international aviation 1990-2014 (source: EEA):





Figure 3: EU CO2e emissions from domestic aviation 1990-2014 (source: EEA):





Figure 4: EU CO2 emissions from jet kerosene used for domestic aviation by EU-28 + ISL (source: EEA):






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