According to a report by ECO, in 2021, when the European bloc progressively lifted Covid restrictions, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases from fossil fuels in the European Union (EU) rose 6.3% compared to the same period of the previous year. Portugal and Finland were the only countries that did not follow the trend, with a drop in CO2 emissions of -5.5% and 1.5%, respectively.

According to Eurostat estimates, CO2 emissions grew in 2021 in almost all EU Member States, with the biggest increase in Bulgaria (18%), followed by Estonia (13.1% ) and Slovakia (11.4%). Italy, Poland, Spain and Romania also recorded emissions above the European average.

In 2021, the increase in CO2 emissions was mainly due to the increased use of solid fossil fuels (which contributed to more than 50% of the increase). Liquid fossil fuels accounted for more than 29% of the increase, while 21% can be attributed to natural gas. Reducing peat use slightly alleviated the increase in emissions.

Data from the European Statistical Office indicate that CO2 emissions from energy use, such as oil and derivatives, natural gas, coal and peat, are one of the main contributors to global warming and represent around 75% of all human-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU. Climatic conditions (eg cold or long winter or hot summer), economic growth, population, transport and industrial activities are some factors that influence emissions.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels originate in the country where the fuels are burned for electricity generation, transport and steel production, which consequently impacts imports and exports of energy products, explains Eurostat. For example, importing coal for electricity generation leads to an increase in emissions in the importing country. In contrast, electricity imports do not affect the emissions of the importing country as they are reported in the exporting country where the electricity was produced.