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Greenhouse gas emissions


Since the industrial revolution, the concentration of various greenhouse gases has increased. For example, CO2 increased by more than 30% since pre-industrial times and is currently increasing at a rate of approximately 0.4% per year. This is mainly due to the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation. The concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide are increasing as well due to human activities (industrial, agricultural). The concentrations of the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) are also increasing, leading to an increase in tropospheric ozone. Emission sources of these gases include nitrogen fertilisers, combustion of fossil fuels, some industrial processes.
Halogen GHGs do not occur naturally in the atmosphere but have been introduced by human activities. They are strong greenhouse gases and have long atmospheric lifetimes. CFCs and HCFCs also deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.

Guiding question:

Does the option affect the emission of greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, methane etc.) into the atmosphere?

Relevant Policies:

The 2009 EU energy and climate change policy package sets the "20-20-20" targets to be met by 2020:

  • Cutting greenhouse gases by 20% (30% if international agreement is reached),
  • Meeting 20% of our energy needs from renewable sources,
  • Reducing energy consumption by 20% compared with projected levels through increased energy efficiency.

The EU's key tool for cutting emissions cost-effectively is emissions trading scheme (ETS). The scheme is based on Directive 2003/87/EC, revised and strengthened by Directive 2009/29/EC.
The “Effort Sharing Decision” regulates cutting emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS, such as transport, housing, agriculture and waste (Decision 406/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council).
The objective of increasing the average share of renewable energies in gross domestic energy consumption at 20% in the European Union by 2020 is implemented through the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC). The target of reducing its energy consumption by 20% by 2020 is addressed in the Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (COM(2006)545) and in “Energy 2020 – A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy" (COM(2010) 639).


Web Resources

European Commission, Greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting, inventories:
EEA greenhouse gas data viewer:


Climate change is one of the main themes of the Eurostat Sustainable Development Indicators. Relevant indicators for which data by Eurostat is available are:

  • Total greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions by sector
  • Greenhouse gas emissions intensity of energy consumption
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from transport activities
  • CO2 emissions per capita in EU and in developing countries

European Environment Agency indicators, e.g.:

  • Global and European temperature assessment
  • Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration
  • Greenhouse gas emission projections

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • Figures from IPCC Reports

Publications and applications

Titel Type of practice Updated date
IA Report: A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 00:18
IA Report: Communication – Action Plan on Urban Mobility Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-02 15:55
IA Report: Defining the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 21:45
IA Report: Defining the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-24 21:40
IA Report: Ecodesign requirements for water pumps (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:00
IA Report: Establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Union airports within a Balanced Approach (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-30 00:32
IA Report: Mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-26 19:11
IA Report: On the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 18:14
IA Report: Proposal for a Decision on accounting rules and action plans on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities related to land use, land use change and forestry (2012) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-25 17:29
IA Report: Proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency (2011) Application of a Model or Method 2013-07-27 13:16
IA Report: Proposal for a Regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles Application of a Model or Method 2013-09-03 19:29

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
Dick, Jan Expert 2014-03-05 09:35
Greenhouse gas emissions Impact Area 2014-01-22 17:27
Mari Jüssi Expert 2014-03-17 12:26
Reidsma, Pytrik Expert 2014-04-08 17:04