CO2 emissions in Spain fall below 1990 levels

by Deborah Cater
CO2 emissions drop in 2020

The Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) published the results of a study on greenhouse gas emissions. Good news: gross CO2 emissions in 2020 were 271.5 tonnes, which is 13.7% less than in 2019.

It is also the first time, in the period 1990-2020, all emissions have decreased compared to the reference year 1990. According to the ministry’s data, CO2 emissions decreased by 6.4% compared to 1990 and by 38.6% compared to 2005. According to MITECO, this decrease has two main causes. On the one hand, the increase in electricity production from renewable sources and the decrease in the use of coal. On the other hand, the restrictions on activity and mobility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport biggest polluter

CO2 accounts, within total gas emissions, for 77.6% of total greenhouse gas emissions, followed by methane with 14.3%. By sector, transport remains the biggest polluter, with 27.7% of total CO2 emissions. Following are industry (21.4%), agriculture and livestock as a whole (14.1%), electricity generation (10.3%), fuel consumption in the residential, commercial and institutional sectors (8.2%) and waste (5.1%).

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More renewable energy, less coal

While the electricity generated in 2020 fell by 3.6%, the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions fell by 34.9%. The main reasons are the increase in renewable energy generation (12.9% compared to 2019) and the continued reduction in the use of coal (60.4% compared to 2019). Emissions from electricity generation outside the Peninsula and from combined cycle power plants are also decreasing.

LULUCF Regulation

The LULUCF regulation, which aims to ensure a balance between CO2 emissions and absorption by forests, agricultural land and grasslands, estimates 36.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions absorbed (accounting for 13.5% of total gross emissions in 2020). The 2.6% reduction achieved is mainly due to the forestry sector, which has the largest share of greenhouse gas removals. Estimates put removals at a decrease of 1.3%. Net emissions in 2020 are, therefore, estimated at 234.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, a 15.2% reduction compared to 2019.

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