OECD Observer
Breaking down carbon emissions
CO2, climate change, environment

In tackling climate change, it makes sense for policymakers to know which sectors greenhouse-gas emissions are coming from. Our chart shows the main sources for European carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, including electricity supply, manufacturing, households and transportation. Household emissions are largely generated from fossil fuel energy used to heat dwellings, but some of the other industry sources are more complex.

Energy, made up of “electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply”, accounts for the largest portion of CO2 emissions, at about 31%, and is the top industrial (non-household) emitter. Policies that focused on electricity generation and supply, by shifting to low-carbon or zero-carbon sustainable energy sources, while costly, would be effective in curbing emissions.

Manufacturing is the second biggest source of industrial emissions, accounting for about 22% of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Within manufacturing, emissions are quite split across product types (see StatLink for chart). “Rubber, plastic and other non-metal material construction” is responsible for the most manufacturing emissions at 26%. Also accounting for about a quarter of emissions in this category is “basic metal and metal product fabrications” at 23%. “Coke and refined petroleum products” make up another 16%, with “chemicals and chemical products” manufacture just behind at 15%.

Transportation comes in third for industrial carbon emissions, with the largest slice of 42% coming from land transport, including passengers and freight over road and rail, and freight through pipelines. 

©OECD Observer No 304, November 2015