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Emissions of greenhouse gases
CO2 is by far the principal greenhouse gas emitted in the Region (almost 91% in 2012). The main sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Brussels are the energy used for the heating of buildings (residential and tertiary sector: 62% of direct emissions of GHGs in 2012) and transports (27%). Since 2004, GHG emissions have shown a downward trend that parallels the reduction in energy consumption. However, this trend is influenced in particular by meteorological conditions, given the share of building heating in emissions. The Region has therefore met its commitments in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the context of Kyoto 1 (1990-2012). Since then, the Region has committed itself unilaterally to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2025 compared to 1990 (through the Covenant of Mayors), and by 8.8% in 2020 compared to 2005 (via the Belgian burden sharing of the climate goals of the Europe 2020 strategy).
The six greenhouse gases (GHGs) covered by the Kyoto Protocol are: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). There are other gases that also have a greenhouse effect but these are not taken into account in calculating the reduction targets. Specifically, for the calculations, the emissions of these six gases are converted into "CO2 equivalents", by giving each gas a weighting according to its global warming potential (compared to CO2).
The Kyoto Protocol only takes into account the GHGs that are emitted directly in the territory (direct emissions). Direct GHG emissions in the Brussels Region are mainly the result of combustion processes using fossil fuels (natural gas and petroleum products). CO2 is by far the most important GHG emitted in the Region (almost 91% in 2012).
Greenhouse gas emissions in the Brussels Region
In 2012, heating of buildings alone (residential and tertiary) accounted for 62% of direct GHG emissions. Buildings and transport taken together accounted for 89% of direct emissions in the same year.
Direct GHG emissions (without fluorinated gases) in the Brussels Capital Region in the years 1990 to 2013
* : The 2013 data are provisional.
Source: Brussels Environment, Dpt Planning air, energy and climate
Between 2004 and 2013, emissions related to buildings decreased, whereas the Brussels population increased (+15.5%), along with residential building stock (+2.6%, according to the DGSIE) and office stock (according to the data of the Office Monitoring Centre). A decoupling between regional emissions of greenhouse gases and the population seems to be triggered. However, as demonstrated by the re-increase in total emissions of greenhouse gases in 2008, 2010 and 2013, this evolution is also related to climatic conditions (milder winters in 2007, 2009 and 2011, harsher winters in 2008, 2010 and 2013), given the share of building heating in the emissions.
Additional analyses, specifically aiming to highlight the determining factors of energy consumption in different sectors, would nonetheless be necessary to explain the evolutions observed in the area of greenhouse gas emissions.
As a signatory party to the Kyoto protocol, Belgium was obliged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5% over the period 2008-2012, compared to 1990. Following the sharing of the burden between the 3 Regions and the Federal State, the Brussels-Capital Region, which has limited agricultural and industrial activity, could not increase the greenhouse gases emitted within its territory by more than 3.475% during the same time period. Specific issues such as mobility problems and energy use for building heating, for which the alternatives are more difficult to implement in the short term, have been identified for the Region.
The BCR has therefore met its commitments in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the context of Kyoto 1 (1990-2012, evaluation regarding the period 2008-2012).
Beyond the period relating to the Kyoto protocol, it should be noted that the Region has committed itself unilaterally to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2025 compared to 1990 (through the Covenant of Mayors), and by 8.8% in 2020 compared to 2005 (via the Belgian burden sharing of the climate goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, in particular the decision 406/2009/EC).
Aside from the GHGs emitted in the Brussels territory (“direct emissions”), the Region is also responsible for “indirect” emissions related to the generation beyond its borders of the electricity it consumes (i.e. almost 95% of the consumed electricity; see page on Energy situation in Brussels), and to the production of imported consumer goods (foodstuffs, household appliances, construction materials, textiles, etc.).
In 2012, according to the Brussels energy balance, 1,319 kilotonnes of CO2 were emitted indirectly, via electricity consumption from different sectors of activity in Brussels, representing 36% of direct emissions of CO2.
Tableau reprenant les données
- 03. La Région de Bruxelles-Capitale face au changement climatique (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)
- 05. Les émissions de gaz à effet de serre en Belgique et en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)
Other publications from Brussels Environment
- Bilan énergétique 2013 : Bilans de l'industrie et du secteur tertiaire et bilan global (Energy balance of the BCR 2013 : balances for the industry and tertiary sectors + global, .pdf, in French and Dutch only)
Fiche de l'Etat de l'Environnement