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CO2 emissions were reduced by 2.2% in Spain in 2018 mainly due to the increase in hydropower and renewables.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 2.2% in 2018 compared to the previous year, mainly as a result of a 15.7% drop in emissions due to the growth of hydraulic generation and renewables, according to data from the Advance Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory, which indicates that Spain emitted a total of 332.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.




With this figure, Spain is 15.4% above the 1990 level of emissions, the base year for evaluating measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The draft National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (PNIEC) proposes for Spain a reduction in 2030 of 21 percentage points with respect to 1990 levels.

In addition, the inventory published by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition indicates that by sectors the one that generated more emissions during 2018 was transport, since road traffic accounted for 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change and of these, a third is generated in urban agglomerations.

The data is sent to the European Commission each year to meet the reporting obligations of the 28. According to the Inventory, the reduction was due to the production of hydropower, which grew 84.9% over the previous year, as this was a wet year, and also increased wind production by 3.5%.

These two energies made it possible to reduce emissions linked to electricity generation by 15.7%, as this increase in renewable sources made it possible to reduce combined cycle production by 18.9%, coal by 17.2% and liquid fuels by 4.5%. On the other hand, the rest of the sectors have increased their emissions with respect to the previous year.

During 2018 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.6% and, at the same time, emissions linked to transport increased by 2.7%; fuel consumption in the Residential, Commercial and Institutional sectors (+1.9%) and fuel consumption in agricultural, forestry and fishing machinery (+4.1%).

With regard to emissions from industry, the inventory reflects an increase of 2%, while emissions from agriculture did not change with respect to the previous year, since it compensates for the growth in livestock emissions, by 1.4%, with the decrease in emissions from crops, which decreased by 2.5%.

In short, emissions from sectors subject to the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which account for 38.2% of the total, fell by 6.6% in 2018. Emissions from sectors not subject to the trading system, known as diffuse sectors, grew by 0.6%.

The diffuse sectors are residential, commercial and institutional; transport; agriculture and livestock; waste management; industry not subject to emissions trading; and fluorinated gases.

By volume of emissions, the transport sector ranks first in greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, with 27% of the total. This is due to the good functioning of emissions from electricity generation, which ranks third.

Transport 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%).

CO2, 81% of total emissions

By type of gas, CO2 accounted for 81% of the total, followed by methane with 12%.

The Ministry adds that to the gross GHG emissions, 332.8 million tons of CO2 equivalent should be deducted the absorptions due to the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, which have been estimated at 37.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent (11% of the total gross emissions of the inventory in 2018).

Therefore, net emissions in 2018 are estimated at 295.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.


Transport, which accounts for 27% of CO2 emissions, grew by 2.7% between 2018 and 2017 due to the rise in emissions from road transport, which alone accounts for 25% of the total GHG emissions in the Inventory.

Specifically, the advance reflects a year-on-year increase of 2.6% in road transport, due to an increase in petrol consumption of 4.8% and an increase of 2% in diesel consumption.

Domestic air transport emissions, although only 0.9% of the total, increased by 10.1% with respect to the previous year.

As for industry, which accounts for 19% of the total, in 2018 it is estimated that its emissions will increase by 2% compared to the previous year in the sector as a whole, including both those from fuel consumption (which increased by 1.7%) and emissions from industrial processes themselves.

Of note are the increases in the non-metallic mineral sectors (ETS emissions from the cement sector increased by 2.6%, those from the lime sector by 3.5% and those from ceramics by 1.7%); and from metallurgy (+5.2% in the production of pig iron or steel).

Electricity generation (17% of total emissions): with respect to 2017, it is estimated that there will be a -15.7% decrease in emissions linked to fuel consumption in electricity generation, due to the -0.5% decrease in total electricity generation, the increase in hydraulic generation (+84.9% with respect to 2017 in a hydrologically very humid year) and the increase in wind power production by 3.5%.

As a result of the rise in the use of renewable sources, electricity generation in natural gas combined cycles fell by -18.9%, that using coal fell by -17.2%, and that using liquid fuels fell by -4.5%.

In the residential, commercial and institutional sectors, the sector accounted for 9% of the total, with a 1.9% increase in the last year due to the increase in consumption of diesel C, in a climatologically warm year, which registered an average temperature (-0.7ºC) lower than that of 2017 and 12% more degree per day of heating.

As far as waste is concerned, it hardly changed with an increase of 0.4% due to the increase in the quantities of solid waste eliminated and wastewater treated, linked to increases in GDP and population.

Combustion in refineries (3.5% of emissions) increased by 1.4%, due to the increase in fuel consumption, while fluorinated gases, emissions of all fluorinated gases decreased by 20.5%, mainly due to the decrease in the use of HFCs and PFCs in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, in accordance with and as a consequence of the application of the tax on fluorinated greenhouse gases established by Law 16/2013.


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