European data division reports a decline in overall emissions from last year, though Germany, the largest contributor to total emissions, saw a modest increase. File photo by Paul Zinken/EPA
May 5 (UPI) -- Combined emissions of carbon dioxide for the European Union declined slightly from last year, though big contributors to pollution posted gains, data show.
Eurostat, the record-keeping arm of the European Union, reported a preliminary estimate for carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels declined 0.4 percent compared with last year.
"CO2 emissions are a major contributor to global warming and account for around 80 percent of all EU greenhouse gas emissions," Eurostat reported.
The tiny island nation of Malta posted the largest year-over-year decrease with 18.2 percent, though its share of total European emissions is less than one half of one percent. Among the major European economies, the United Kingdom posted a 4.8 percent decline in emissions last year. The U.K. economy accounted for 11.7 percent of emissions tied to fossil fuels last year.
Among those posting an increase, Finland, which accounted for 1.4 percent of EU emissions, led with an increase of 8.5 percent from 2015. Germany, which accounted for nearly 23 percent of the emissions tied to fossil fuels, saw an increase of 0.7 percent.
For Germany, it marks a slight reversal as it has one of the greener economies in Europe. In January, the EU awarded Essen, Germany, with the Green Capital 2017 honors for transforming its economy away from the coal and steel industry. For future goals, the city aims to reduce car travel, a main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, by 29 percent by 2035 and create 20,000 jobs in the environmental sector by 2025.
Data provided to UPI on Friday by Eurostat show total generated electricity increased by 5 percent in Germany last year. That means some conventional energy factors balanced against electricity from renewable energy resources, which remained unchanged last year.
For the United Kingdom, continuing with gains from last year may be complicated by the British divorce from the EU. Last month, the British government sold its green investment entity to a consortium led by Australian lender Macquarie Bank, a sale that Greenpeace described as a loss for a low-carbon economy.
Britain, under its Climate Change Act, committed to cutting emissions by 80 percent of the benchmark level from 1990 by 2050. The British Committee on Climate Change said in late 2016 that emissions were 38 percent below 1990 levels even as the economy grew by 60 percent.