London — The EU's economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.7% in 2019 to the lowest in three decades, the European Commission said Nov. 30.
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The fall in GHG emissions -- which took the bloc's emissions down to 24% below 1990 levels -- came as the EU's GDP grew by 1.5%, the EC said in a statement.
"The European Union is proving it is possible to reduce emissions and grow your economy," said executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.
"However, today's report again confirms we need to step up our efforts across all sectors of the economy to reach our common goal of climate neutrality by 2050," he said in the EC's statement.
Emissions covered by the EU Emissions Trading System saw the greatest reduction in 2019, falling by 9.1% or about 152 million mt of CO2 equivalent from 2018 levels.
The drop was driven mainly by the power sector where emissions fell by almost 15%, primarily due to renewable and natural-gas fired electricity displacing coal-fired power, the EC said. Emissions from industry fell by close to 2%, it said.
CO2 emissions from aviation from flights within the European Economic Area increased by 1% or 700,000 mt in 2019 compared with 2018 levels, it said.
Emissions from sectors that are not covered by the EU ETS, such as transport, buildings, agriculture, waste and non-ETS industries, saw no significant change compared with 2018 levels, the EC said.
EU's climate investment to increase
The EU's expenditure on climate action, financing of green technologies, deployment of new solutions and international cooperation increased in 2019 and will increase further in the context of Europe's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the EC said.
The total revenue from carbon auctions under the EU ETS amounted to over Eur57 billion ($67 billion) in the period between auctions starting in 2012 and mid-2020, with more than half of this generated in 2018 and 2019 alone.
"In 2019, total auction revenue exceeded Eur14.1 billion. Of this total, 77% will be used for climate and energy purposes, 7 percentage points higher than the 70% share reported in 2018," the EC said.
In addition, a growing number of EU-funded climate projects are financed through the monetization of emissions allowances via the NER 300 program, the Innovation Fund and the Modernization Fund, it said.