The Ministry for Ecological Transition has published the Advance of the Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG), linked to climate change, corresponding to 2018. These preliminary data – which are sent to the European Commission annually in compliance with the information obligations – reveal an estimate of gross emissions of 332.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which implies a decrease of 2.2%.

Last year, transportation was the sector that contributed the most to the Inventory. On its own, road traffic represents 25% of total GHG emissions, and of these, one third are concentrated in urban agglomerations.

The decrease in emissions in 2018 is mainly due to the strong increase in hydraulic energy production, which grew by 84.9% compared to 2017, thanks to the fact that it was a hydrologically humid year, as well as the increase in wind production in a 3 ,5%. Both issues have reduced the emissions related to electricity generation by 15.7%, given that the increase in renewable sources led to a reduction in the production of combined cycles (-18.9%), coal (-17.2%), and which uses liquid fuels (-4.5%).

The rest of sectors have experienced an increase in their emissions compared to the previous year. Thus, in a year with an increase in GDP of 2.6%, there were increases in emissions linked to transport (+ 2.7%); to fuel consumption in the Residential, Commercial and Institutional sectors (+ 1.9%) and fuel consumption in agricultural, forestry and fishing machinery (+ 4.1%). The industry's emissions increase by 2%.

On the other hand, emissions from agriculture do not change with respect to the figure for 2017, given that the rise in livestock emissions is compensated (+ 1.4%) with the decrease in those from crops (-2.5%) .

In general terms, emissions from sectors subject to the European emission trading system (ETS), which account for 38.2% of the total, decreased by 6.6% in 2018. Meanwhile, emissions not subject to the system – the so-called diffuse sectors – increased by 0.6%. Under this heading are grouped the residential, commercial and institutional emissions; transport; the agricultural and livestock; waste management; the industry is not subject to emissions trading and fluorinated gases.

The data reflecting the progress puts the level of emissions in Spain 15.4 percentage points above the 1990 emission level, the reference year to evaluate mitigation measures for GHG emissions. In fact, the draft National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (PNIEC), sent last February to the European Commission by the Government of Spain, proposes a set of actions to reduce, by 2030, 21 percentage points with respect to 1990 levels.

Transport, the most important sector in 2018

With the good performance of emissions linked to electricity generation, transportation becomes the sector with the greatest weight in greenhouse gas emissions of 2018, 27%. It is followed by industry (19%), electricity generation (17%), agriculture as a whole (12%), fuel consumption in the Residential, Commercial and Institutional sectors (9%) and waste (4%) ).

For gases, CO2 accounts for 81% of total GHG emissions, followed by methane, with 12%.

Gross GHG emissions of 332.8 million tons of CO2 equivalent would have to be deducted from the absorptions due to the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, which has been estimated at 37.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent (11% of total gross inventory emissions in 2018). Therefore, net emissions in 2018 are estimated at 295.1 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

Details by sectors

The variations between 2017 and 2018 by sectors are:

  • Transport (27% of emissions): increase in emissions compared to 2017 by 2.7%, mainly due to the increase in emissions from road transport, which alone represents 25% of total emissions GHG of the Inventory. Specifically, the advance reflects a year-on-year increase of 2.6% in road transport, due to an increase in gasoline consumption of 4.8% and a 2.0% increase in diesel consumption. The emissions of the national air transport, although they only represent 0.9% of the total, increase by 10.1% with respect to the previous year.
  • Industry (19% of emissions): in 2018 it is estimated an increase of its emissions compared to the previous year of 2% in the sector as a whole, including those from fuel consumption (which increased by 1.7%) and emissions derived from the industrial processes themselves. The increases in the non-metallic minerals sectors stand out (the ETS emissions of the cement sector increased by 2.6%, those of the lime sector by 3.5% and those of ceramics by 1.7%); and of metallurgy (+ 5.2% in the production of pig iron or steel).
  • Electricity generation (17% of total emissions): with respect to 2017, it is estimated a decrease of -15.7% in emissions related to fuel consumption in electricity generation, due to the -0.5% decrease in generation total electricity, the increase in hydraulic generation (+ 84.9% compared to 2017 in a hydrologically very wet year) and the increase in wind production by 3.5%. As a result of the increase in the use of renewable sources, electric generation in combined cycles of natural gas decreased by -18.9%, coal-fired power decreased by -17.2%, and electricity using liquid fuels decreased by – 4.5%.
  • Residential, Commercial and Institutional (RCI): the sector, which accounted for 9% of total GHG in 2018, experienced a 1.9% year-on-year increase in emissions due to the increase in the consumption of diesel C in a year that, although it was climatologically warm, registered a temperature average lower (-0,7ºC) to the year of 2017 and a 12% more degree-days of heating.
  • farming (12% of total emissions): emissions from the sector as a whole did not vary slightly compared to the previous year. However, livestock activities, responsible for 67% of emissions from this sector, increased their emissions by + 1.4%, mainly due to the manure management (+ 2.6%) and fermentation enteric (+ 0.8%). In contrast, crop emissions decreased by -2.5%, mainly due to the decreases in N2O emissions derived from the management of agricultural soils (-2%, due to the decrease in the use of inorganic fertilizers with respect to the previous year). and of the CO2 emissions derived from the application of urea (-17%).
  • Waste (4.1% of the total): emissions are estimated in 2018 very similar to those of the previous year, with a slight variation of + 0.4% due to the increase in the amounts of solid waste eliminated and treated wastewater, linked to the increases in GDP and population.
  • Combustion in refineries (3.5% of emissions): increase in emissions of the sector by + 1.4%, according to ETS data, linked surely to the increase in fuel consumption.
  • Fluorinated gases (1.8% of total emissions in terms of CO2 equivalent): emissions from the set of fluorinated gases decreased by 20.5%, mainly due to the decrease in the use of HFCs and PFCs in the refrigeration and air sector conditioned, in accordance and as a consequence of the application of the tax on fluorinated greenhouse gases established by Law 16/2013.
  • Sector LULUCF: the absorptions associated with this sector of the Inventory have been estimated at -37.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent (11% of gross emissions in 2018). With respect to 2017, the removals have been lower (year-on-year variation of -1.5%). The decrease in the global level of removals is linked to the forestry sector (-1.6%, as a consequence of the decrease in the effect of reforestation on the increase in forest biomass), and to a lesser extent to the decrease in pasture land area.

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