Climatic Change

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 131–142 | Cite as

Trends of the EU’s territorial and consumption-based emissions from 1990 to 2016

  • Jonas Karstensen
  • Glen P. PetersEmail author
  • Robbie M. Andrew


Emissions of CO2 from the EU can be estimated using different system boundaries, depending on the policy question. We analyze and compare the trends in territorial emissions (1990–2016) and consumption-based emissions and emissions embodied in trade (1990–2014). We find the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 was an important turning point. Territorial emissions were roughly stable in the years before the GFC but have since declined. Consumption-based emissions rose from 2000 to the GFC but then declined in concert with territorial emissions. A Kaya identity decomposition suggests that the main factor pushing the EU’s territorial emissions up before the GFC was a growth in GDP, balanced by constant improvements in energy and carbon intensity. The large increase in consumption-based emissions up to the GFC was mainly due to emissions from the production of imported manufactured goods, particularly from China. After the GFC, the Kaya identity decomposition suggests that lower GDP growth facilitated a sustained decrease in territorial emissions. The decline in consumption-based emissions since the GFC was partly due to decreasing territorial emissions but accelerated due to a decrease in the emissions from the production of imported products from China. Preliminary data indicates that EU CO2 emissions have increased from 2014 to 2017, with the Kaya identity decomposition suggesting the increase is due to a return to stronger GDP growth.



This study is funded by the Norwegian Research Council project “Governing EU-Norwegian willingness to extract, combust, and consume less carbon” (project no. 235689).


  1. Aguiar A, Narayanan B, Mcdougall R (2016) An overview of the GTAP 9 data base. Journal of Global Economic Analysis 1:181–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andres RJ, Boden TA, Bréon FM, Ciais P, Davis S, Erickson D, Gregg JS, Jacobson A, Marland G, Miller J, Oda T, Olivier JGJ, Raupach MR, Rayner P, Treanton K (2012) A synthesis of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion. Biogeosciences 9:1845–1871CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrew RM, Peters GP (2013) A multi-region input–output table based on the global trade analysis project database (GTAP-MRIO). Econ Syst Res 25:99–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanco G, Gerlagh R, Suh S, Barrett J, Coninck HCD, Morejon CFD, Mathur R, Nakicenovic N, Ahenkora AO, Pan J, Pathak H, Rice J, Richels R, Smith SJ, Stern DI, Toth FL, Zhou P (2014) Drivers, trends and mitigation. In: Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Farahani E, Kadner S, Seyboth K, Adler A, Baum I, Brunner S, Eickemeier P, Kriemann B, Savolainen J, Schlömer S, Stechow CV, Zwickel T, Minx JC (eds) Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of climate change. Contribution of working group III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. De Haan M, Keuning SJ (1996) Taking the environment into account: the NAMEA approach. Rev Income Wealth 42:131–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. European Commission (2011) A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions [Online]Google Scholar
  7. European Commission (2015) Intended nationally determined contribution of the EU and its member states. UNFCCC, Accessed 06.06.2017
  8. European Environment Agency (2018) Annual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2016 and inventory report 2018. UNFCCC National Inventory Submissions 2018, Accessed: 4.07.2018
  9. Eurostat (2015) Building the System of National Accounts - administrative sources [Online]. Available: Accessed 02.06.2017
  10. Eurostat (2016) International trade in goods [Online]. Available: Accessed 16.03.2017
  11. Eurostat (2018) Simplified energy balances - annual data. European CommissionGoogle Scholar
  12. International Energy Agency (2018) Global energy & CO2 status report 2017. OECD/IEAGoogle Scholar
  13. IPCC (2006) IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Prepared by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, Japan, IGESGoogle Scholar
  14. Jackson RB, Quéré CL, Andrew RM, Canadell JG, Peters GP, Roy J, Wu L (2017) Warning signs for stabilizing global CO2 emissions. Environ Res Lett 12:110202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kander A, Jiborn M, Moran DD, Wiedmann TO (2015) National greenhouse-gas accounting for effective climate policy on international trade. Nat Clim Chang 5:431–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kanemoto K, Moran D, Lenzen M, Geschke A (2014) International trade undermines national emission reduction targets: new evidence from air pollution. Glob Environ Chang 24:52–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Karstensen J, Peters GP, Andrew RM (2015) Uncertainty in temperature response of current consumption-based emissions estimates. Earth Syst Dynam 6:287–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Le Quéré C, Andrew RM, Canadell JG, Sitch S, Korsbakken JI, Peters GP, Manning AC, Boden TA, Tans PP, Houghton RA, Keeling RF, Alin S, Andrews OD, Anthoni P, Barbero L, Bopp L, Chevallier F, Chini LP, Ciais P, Currie K, Delire C, Doney SC, Friedlingstein P, Gkritzalis T, Harris I, Hauck J, Haverd V, Hoppema M, Klein Goldewijk K, Jain AK, Kato E, Körtzinger A, Landschützer P, Lefèvre N, Lenton A, Lienert S, Lombardozzi D, Melton JR, Metzl N, Millero F, Monteiro PMS, Munro DR, Nabel JEMS, Nakaoka SI, O’Brien K, Olsen A, Omar AM, Ono T, Pierrot D, Poulter B, Rödenbeck C, Salisbury J, Schuster U, Schwinger J, Séférian R, Skjelvan I, Stocker BD, Sutton AJ, Takahashi T, Tian H, Tilbrook B, Van Der Laan-Luijkx IT, Van Der Werf GR, Viovy N, Walker AP, WiltshirE AJ, Zaehle S (2016) Global carbon budget 2016. Earth Syst Sci Data 8:605–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mi Z, Meng J, Guan D, Shan Y, Song M, Wei Y-M, Liu Z, Hubacek K (2017) Chinese CO2 emission flows have reversed since the global financial crisis. Nat Commun 8:1712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Munksgaard J, Pedersen KA (2001) CO2 accounts for open economies: producer or consumer responsibility? Energy Policy 29:327–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nakicenovic N, Swart R (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios. Special report on emissions scenarios, Edited by Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Robert Swart, pp 612. ISBN 0521804930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, July 2000, 1Google Scholar
  22. Pan C, Peters GP, Andrew RM, Korsbakken JI, Li S, Zhou D, Zhou P (2017) Emissions embodied in global trade have plateaued due to structural changes in China. Earth’s Future 5:934–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pedersen OG, Haan M (2006) The system of environmental and economic accounts—2003 and the economic relevance of physical flow accounting. J Ind Ecol 10:19–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Peters GP (2008) From production-based to consumption-based national emission inventories. Ecol Econ 65:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peters GP, Andrew R, Lennox J (2011a) Constructing a multi-regional input-output table using the GTAP database. Econ Syst Res 23:131–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peters GP, Minx JC, Weber CL, Edenhofer O (2011b) Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108:8903–8908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Peters GP, Davis SJ, Andrew R (2012) A synthesis of carbon in international trade. Biogeosciences 9:3247–3276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters GP, Andrew RM, Canadell JG, Fuss S, Jackson RB, Korsbakken JI, Le Quere C, Nakicenovic N (2017) Key indicators to track current progress and future ambition of the Paris agreement. Nat Clim Chang 7:118–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Raupach MR, Marland G, Ciais P, Le Quéré C, Canadell JG, Klepper G, Field CB (2007) Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:10288–10293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tukker A, Dietzenbacher E (2013) Global multiregional input–output frameworks: an introduction and outlook. Econ Syst Res 25:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. UNFCCC (2017) Paris Agreement - Status of Ratification [Online]. Available: Accessed 17.03.2017
  32. United Nations (2018) United Nations Statistics Division: National Accounts Main Aggregates Database, Accessed 4.07.2018Google Scholar
  33. United Nations, Commission of the European Communities - Eurostat, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development & World Bank (1993) System of National Accounts 1993, Brussels/Luxembourg, New York, Paris, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  34. Wiebe KS, Yamano N (2016) Estimating CO2 emissions embodied in final demand and trade using the OECD ICIO 2015. OECD science, technology and industry working papers, no 2016/05Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CICERO Center for International Climate ResearchOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations