Spain sixth European Union country with largest increase in CO2 emissions

by Lorraine Williamson
CO2 emissions

Spain registered the highest increase in CO2 emissions in the European Union in 2021, after five countries. While the increase is mainly due to being able to travel again after the corona pandemic, emissions are still worryingly high. 

Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) in Spain rose by no less than 7.4% last year. The average increase of all EU countries was 6.3% in 2021. 

Increase in CO2 emissions due to the lifting of restrictive travel measures 

Eurostat recently presented these figures. Although the increase in CO2 emissions in the EU can be called significant, the agency immediately states that the increases in 2021 are mainly characterized by the fact that most restrictions, in the context of Covid, have been lifted and travel is allowed again. 

Nevertheless, emissions remain worrisome. CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are a major contributor to global warming and are responsible for 75% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. The EU is the third largest CO2 emitter in the world after China and the United States. In 2019, Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Spain were the most responsible for emissions within Europe. 

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CO2 emissions increased in almost all EU countries 

According to Eurostat, emissions will have increased in almost all EU Member States by 2021. The largest increases were observed in Bulgaria (+18.0%), Estonia (13.1%), Slovakia (11.4%), Italy (10.6%), Poland (8.6%) and Spain (7 .4%). The only two countries where CO2 emissions were even lower were Portugal (-5.5%) and Finland (-1.5%). 

A low emission zone in 2023 for at least 149 Spanish municipalities 

Despite the increase in CO2 emissions in 2021, Spain continues to make plans to reduce emissions. For example, several Spanish media, including El Correo, wrote over the weekend that Spanish cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants – and in some cases municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants – must have introduced a low emission zone (ZBE) by 2023. This is to reduce emissions and to comply with the law on climate change. At least 149 municipalities in Spain will have to take measures for this. 

Despite all the plans that have been made, various objectives prove difficult to achieve in practice. This applies, for example, to the ‘electrification’ of transport in Spain. 

Also read: No zero emissions tariff for flights to Canary islands

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