Sector specific emissions and Industry’s increasing share in CO2 emissions by 2050


Publish date: March 8, 2019

CO2 emissions come from many different sources. From the food we eat to the homes we live in, almost every aspect of our lives includes emitting greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In Europe, 4.45 billion tonnes of CO2 are released every year, with the average European adding 24 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere every day.[i][ii]

CO2 emissions come from many different sources. From the food we eat to the homes we live in, almost every aspect of our lives includes emitting greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In Europe, 4.45 billion tonnes of CO2 are released every year, with the average European adding 24 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere every day.[i][ii]


20% -The electrification of transport has an important role in cutting emissions, oil imports and air pollution. The deployment of electric vehicles is gaining momentum, with a record-high of new electric car registrations[iii], the city of Berlin ordering their first 15 electric buses for 2019[iv], and technological developments increasing range and safety of the vehicles[v]. Rapidly improving battery technology has helped in the development of electrification solutions for heavy duty transport, with the first trucks already having 800km range per charge[vi]. An increasing number of cities, including Paris, Copenhagen and Hamburg, are set to ban polluting internal combustion engines within their city limits by as soon as 2020.[vii]


13% – Increasing efficiency standards for buildings have enabled the deployment of a variety of technologies that have helped tackle emissions from the residential sector. Efficient construction practices, appliances and heating and cooling systems already contribute to significant reductions in the sector[viii]. The increased use of technologies such as heat pumps also enables an increased use of renewable electricity in homes[ix]. In the EU alone, more than half of the 210 million buildings will be in need of renewal within the coming years[x].


30% – Decarbonisation solutions for the energy supply sector have become a synonym for climate action. Renewables have shown their potential with rapid deployment throughout Europe and globally: wind and solar PV have had annual average growth rates of 21% and 43% respectively between 2000 and 2016[xi]. In 2016, global investment in renewables totalled more than investment in coal, gas and nuclear energy combined[xii]. In parallel, countries have committed to phasing out coal electricity generation. The Netherlands, France, Italy, the UK, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Norway all plan to shut down their last coal power plants by 2030 or earlier[xiii].

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 12.20.50 Credit: Bellona


6% – For short range trips in marine transport, electrification is a viable option for reducing emissions[xiv]. The ports of Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Kiel, Lübeck, Oslo, and Bergen already provide shore power for electric and hybrid vessels[xv]. Already in 2018, fully electric vessels will operate from the ports of Amsterdam, and Rotterdam[xvi][xvii]In 2019, Norwegian Color Line and Ulstein Verft will launch the world’s biggest hybrid vessel, able to transport 1900 passengers and 500 cars. For long distance travel, recent solutions include the use of alternative fuels without a carbon content, such as Hydrogen[xviii] and Ammonia[xix]. Alternative carbon based fuels – potentially from seaweed[xx]– will still be needed for aviation, where electrification may only be an option for short-haul flights[xxi].


19% – The conversation about industrial emissions is just getting underway. While there are various options that claim to address the problem, only few have the potential to live up to the challenge. While many technological solutions are needed to address all industry emissions, the actual CO2 reductions depend on each option’s potential scale, resource-use intensity and knock-on effects on other decarbonisation pathways. In 2050, industry could end up being the largest emitting sector. In absolute numbers, the climate impact of European industry (857 MtCO2) is already greater than the impact from all of Europe’s coal power plants put together (775 MtCO2 )[xxviii]. Industries will become increasingly exposed to climate change politics as other sectors modernise. As industrial CO2 sources grow as a percentage of total remaining emissions, scrutiny on why they emit so much and how this climate damage can be halted will only increase.

Read more about the industry’s potential in our report “An Industry’s Guide to Climate Action”


12% – When it comes to climate, the strategy for agriculture seems focused on solutions that lack the scale needed to achieve deep reductions. Even though the shift to sustainable agriculture seems to be underway, the major concerns relate more to other environmental factors such as biodiversity impacts, sustainable farming practices and waste management[xxii][xxiii]. While all of these will have a minor effect on the GHG emissions of the sector[xxiv], significant reductions will require a complete change in the food system, both in consumption and production patterns. So far, agriculture has been shielded from having to undergo such massive transformations, particularly in Europe[xxv]. Their licence to operate in the same way is not only supported politically, but also by large subsidies, adding up to 52.0 billion€ in 2016 alone[xxvi]. With global goals aiming at increased production[xxvii], it is unlikely that there will be a significant change in the overall emissions of the sector.

[i] eurostat, “Greenhouse gas emissions per capita,” 2018. [Online]. Available: eurostat/en/web/products-datasets/-/T2020_RD300.

[ii] EEA, “Total greenhouse gas emission trends and projections,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.

[iii]IEA, “Global EV outlook,” OECD/IEA, 2017

[iv]Gassnova, “Preem vurderer karbonfangst fra Lysekil-raffineriet,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.

[v]M. Report, “Solaris wins Berlin electric bus order,” August 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.

[vi] Forbes, “Battery Advancements Set To Accelerate Electric Car Adoption,” 7 August 2017. [Online]. Available:

[vii]Bellona, “Rapid technological progress paves way for electric freigh,” 19 January 2018. [Online]. Available:

[viii]DW, 26 February 2018. [Online]. Available:

[ix] O. Lucon, D. Ürge-Vorsatz, A. Zain Ahmed, H. Akbari, P. Bertoldi, L. Cabeza, N. Eyre, A. Gadgil, L. Harvey, Y. Jiang, E. Liphoto, S. Mirasgedis, S. Murakami, J. Parikh, C. Pyke and M. Vilariño, “Chapter 9: Buildings,” in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 671-738.

[x]VTT, “Renewable energy production of Finnish heat pumps,” VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2014.

[xi]European Commission, “Energy Efficiency,” 2018. [Online]. Available: en/topics/energy-efficiency.

[xii]IEA, “Picture of Renewables Information 2017,” 2017

[xiii]U. and B. , “Global trends in renewable energy investments 2017,” FS/UNEP Centre/BNEF, Frankfurt am Main, 2017

[xiv]Europe Beyond Coal, “2017 Coal Developments,” 2017.

[xv]Bellona, “Factsheet: Taking the Electric Revolution to the Seas,” 2017.

[xvi]Ecofys, “Potential for Shore Side Electricity in Europe,” 2015.

[xvii]Loadstar, “Port-Liner launches first emission-free barges on Europe’s waterways,” 8 January 2018. [Online]. Available:

[xviii]P. Hockenos, “Norway’s Newest Ships Give a Glimpse Into the Future of Sustainable Seafaring,” Smithsonian, September 2018. [Online]. Available:

[xix]UNFCCC, “World’s First Hydrogen Ship Promises Potential for Sustainable Shipping,” 17 January 2017. [Online]. Available:

[xx]D. W. Kang and J. H. Holbrook, “Use of NH3 fuel to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions from US transportation,” Energy Reports, pp. 164-168, 2015.

[xxi]Bellona, “Opportunities and Risks of Seaweed Biofuels in Aviation,” Bellona, Oslo/Brussels, 2017.

[xxii] UBA, 2018. [Online]. Available: [30] CDU, “Koalitionsvertrag,” 2018. [Online]. Available: dokumente/koalitionsvertrag_2018.pdf?file=1&type=field_collection_item&id=12643.

[xxiii] CDU, “Koalitionsvertrag,” 2018. [Online]. Available: dokumente/koalitionsvertrag_2018.pdf?file=1&type=field_collection_item&id=12643.

[xxiv] IFOAM, “Organic farming, climate change mitigation and beyond,” 2018.

[xxv] Germanwatch, “Bauernverband präsentiert sich planlos beim Klimaschutz,” 10 January 2018. [Online]. Available:

[xxvi]CAPreform, 2017. [Online]. Available:

[xxvii] UNDP, “GOAL 2 TARGETS,” 2018. [Online]. Available: home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-2-zero-hunger/targets/.

[xxviii]CAN, “Briefing Note Coal Generation in Europe,” Climate Action Network Europe, Brussels, 2017