Official figures show that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the EU decreased by 0.4% in 2016, despite an increase in transport emissions for the third consecutive year. The report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that the slight cut in emissions was achieved due to a reduction in the use of coal for both heat and power generation. Furthermore, there was evidence that emissions continue to decouple from growth, as the 2016 emission reduction occurred alongside EU GDP growth of 2%.
From 1990 to 2016, the EU has reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions by 22.4%, surpassing its 20% reduction target by 2020. These figures include emissions from international aviation. The biggest savings have been achieved in the energy sector as the use of renewables increases and carbon-intensive coal generation decreases. The United Kingdom and Spain accounted for the largest decreases in EU emissions in 2016, largely due to lower consumption of solid fuels in the power sector. Conversely, there was a relatively large increase in emissions in Poland, particularly in the road transport sector.
Despite the progress seen to date, early indications are that EU GHG emissions could increase in 2017. Confirmation of this, and details of emission sources, will be published in the autumn in the Approximated EU greenhouse gas inventory. However, it is clear that transport emissions need to be addressed as they have been on an upward trajectory since 2013. This has been attributed to the use of more diesel in cars, LGVs, and HGVs.
According to Statista, the total number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV) registered in the UK stood at 132,540 in Q3 2017, an increase of more than 13,000 on the previous quarter. The Office for Low Emissions Vehicles is providing £900 million to position the UK at the forefront of ULEV development, manufacture, and use. A number of suppliers have recently published Electric Vehicle tariffs, with some offering incentives such as a number of “free miles”.
Electric or hybrid cars accounted for over half of all new cars in Norway in 2017. The country has made the purchase price of low emission cars more competitive by putting a generous tax system in place. Other benefits include free road tolls and free parking. Norway has set a target to only sell new cars that are zero-emission from 2025.