10 worst CO2 emitters in Europe, according to Dublin start-up

16 Dec 2021

Image: © malp/Stock.adobe.com

According to CarbonSpace’s findings, just 10 countries are responsible for 92pc of the region’s total carbon footprint.

New data from Dublin-based emissions monitoring start-up CarbonSpace has revealed the 10 worst carbon emitters in Europe. Germany is top of the list, followed by the UK and Italy.

The start-up’s research also found that the EU’s carbon emissions had shrunk by 9pc since 2015, but this represents just a fraction of the legally binding target to reduce emissions by at least 55pc below 1990 levels by 2030.

CarbonSpace, which uses AI to determine and track the carbon footprints of businesses, released the data today (16 December). Its research into carbon emissions by countries has been validated by the European Space Agency (ESA), which funded the company through its AI kick-start accelerator.

The start-up, which was founded in 2020, also raised €900,000 in a recent funding round led by The Yield Lab Europe and Rockstart. The company is one of many Irish start-ups working with the ESA on a variety of projects. Last year alone, Irish start-ups racked up €11.5m in ESA contracts.

Using AI tools and satellite measurements, CarbonSpace measured carbon uptake and emissions from farms, fields, forests and other land uses across Europe. It mapped emissions from human activity and biospheric fluxes.

According to CarbonSpace’s findings, just 10 countries are responsible for 92pc of Europe’s total carbon footprint. They are Germany (24pc), the UK (13pc), Italy (12pc), France (9pc), Poland (9pc), Spain (8pc), Netherlands (6pc), Belgium (5pc), Czech Republic (4pc) and Greece (2pc). The five worst emitters are responsible for two-thirds of the region’s footprint.

Europe top 10 carbon emitters graphic by CarbonSpace.

Image: CarbonSpace

However, the top five emitting countries all appear to have reduced their carbon footprints since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016, according to the data. Germany has reduced its emissions by 3.8pc, Italy by 6.6pc, France by 13.6pc and Poland by 5.6pc. The UK, which was the second biggest net emitter in 2020, reduced its carbon footprint by 20.75pc from 2016 to 2020.

CarbonSpace also looked at the worst 10 carbon emitters from the US. The states of California and Texas topped the list.

Table showing US top 10 carbon emitters by CarbonSpace.

Image: CarbonSpace

Earlier this year, the UN Environment Programme warned that global emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to limit temperature increases to the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Dr Oleg Demidov, CEO and co-founder of CarbonSpace, said the start-up’s aim in creating its tools was to “provide a global carbon footprint transparency” and encourage “improved and more sustainable land management practices, in particular within the agri-food and forestry sectors”.

The 27 EU member states recently signed three ministerial statements by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) pledging to intensify work on initiatives promoting more sustainable production and consumption. The first statement deals with trade and environmental sustainability, while the second focuses on plastic pollution and an environmentally sustainable plastics trade, and the third is concerned with fossil fuel subsidy reform.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, yesterday (15 December) welcomed Ireland’s signing of the statements.

“Countries will work together to promote and facilitate trade in environmental goods and services, sharing experiences of effective approaches to move towards a more circular, resource efficient and environmentally sustainable plastics trade, and the development of concrete options to phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption,” he said.

“Ireland looks forward to actively progressing this work over the next year in collaboration with our WTO partners.”

This week, Ireland also approved actions to support the delivery of the Climate Action Plan 2021 across all Government departments. This plan committed Ireland to a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51pc by 2030.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said: “We have seen that we can work across Government to tackle Covid. We now need to give the same cross-Government impetus to our work on climate action, so we can reach our goals and create a cleaner, greener economy and society.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.