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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Neck and Neck: US and European Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trends

Reposted from theenergycollective

By Trevor Houser

Today the European Environmental Agency (EEA) released their annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. Emissions in the European Union fell 3.3% in 2011 to their lowest  level since the EEA began keeping track. That’s double the year-on-year decline in American GHG emissions in 2011, but the US likely made up much of the difference in 2012. Preliminary data shows a 2.1% decline in European emissions last year compared to a 3.8% decline in the US.

Europe Takes the Lead in 2011

Compiling a robust inventory of GHG emissions is a complicated affair, and as a result official data often lags by over a year. Today, the EEA published their final GHG inventory for 2011 covering all 27 members of the European Union, and it shows a sharper drop from 2010 levels than preliminary estimates had suggested. Total GHG emissions in the EU fell by 3.3% in 2011 to 4,550 million tons CO2e. That’s the third steepest one year drop since the EEA inventory process began.

Europe is not the only part of the developed world where GHG emissions are falling. Emissions have declined in the US as well in recent years, thanks primarily to the global recession and lackluster economic recovery (Figure 1). But the 2011 drop was twice as sharp in Europe as in the US – 3.3% compared to 1.6% (Figure 3). Differences in economic growth are partially responsible. The American economy expanded by 1.8% while the Europe grew by 1.6%. More important, though, was the change in the GHG-intensity of the two economies (Figure 2). Thanks in large part to a particularly mild winter (and thus less demand for heating) the quantity of GHGs emitted per unit of economic output fell by 4.8% in Europe in 2011, compared to 3.3% in the US.

Read more at theenergycollective

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