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GHG emissions from operators covered by the EU ETS increased by 7.3% in 2021

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) increased by 7.3 per cent in 2021 compared with 2020 levels, reported the European Commission. However, compared with pre-pandemic levels emissions are still on the decline.

In particular, the power sector witnessed an 8.3 per cent increase, mainly driven by a shift from the use of natural gas to coal, related to the evolution of fossil fuel prices and higher electricity demand in the context of the recovery after the pandemic. 

Secondly, the emissions from industry increased by an average of 5.2 per cent, with high increases observed in most sectors, including iron and steel (10.4 per cent) and chemicals (20.8 per cent). This increase reflects the economic recovery after the pandemic, with the EU-27 GDP increasing by 5.3 per cent between 2020 and 2021.

Finally, verified emissions from aircraft operators amounted to 26.87 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021. This was approximately 8.7 per cent higher than the 24.71 million tonnes reported in 2020, but still 61 per cent lower than the 68.2 million tonnes of CO2 in pre-pandemic 2019. Important to also note that as of 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 per cent compared with 2020 and decreased by 50 per cent as compared with 2019.

Overall, compared with 2019 emissions, emissions from the power sector have decreased by 7.3 per cent while for the main industrial sector they have decreased by 1.9 per cent. Thus, industrial GHG emissions remain on a downward trend, although more effort is needed to reach the EU’s long-term climate targets.

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