Czech Hydrometeorological Institute - Air Quality Protection Division

I.2 Greenhouse gases emissions

At present the climate change is regarded as one of the most serious global problems. The climate system is influenced by a number of anthropologic activities, and the prevailing role is ascribed to the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), which cause the increase of the greenhouse effect. With regard to the global impact the climate change is a worldwide issue and its solution demands the active and constructive approach from all countries. The most serious impacts of the proceeding climate change include the increasing frequency of extreme climatic events (floods, draught, wind storms), sea level rise, decreasing drinking water availability, desertification, biodiversity reduction etc.

People are aware of the seriousness of the problem and therefore already in 1992 the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro set the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC), which entered into force in 1994. The basic objective of the Framework Convention is to create prerequisites for stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Framework Convention covers a number of general responsibilities and regulations for the parties, nevertheless there are no specific reduction commitments.

The Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on climate change was adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties to the UN FCCC in Kyoto in 1997. Its adoption was appreciated as a major progress, because the Protocol sets the quantified emission reduction commitments for the parties and the ways of their achievement. The industrialized countries were legally bound to reduce during the first commitment period (2008–2012), individually or jointly, their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5.2 % in comparison with the level in 1990. This reduction refers to emissions and removals of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorinated hydrocarbons – partly (HFC) and completely (PFC) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), expressed as aggregated greenhouse gas emissions in the form of equivalent mass of CO2eq. The Kyoto Protocol covers not only the processes leading to emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but also the reversed processes resulting in the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and its storage in the biomass, by monitoring the land-use changes (afforestation, forest management practice or deforestation).

The Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol set the use of the unified methods1 for the determination of emissions and removals of gases influencing the climate system of the Earth (greenhouse gases). This determination, called the greenhouse gases inventory, is the basis for the control of international commitments set by the Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol; in case of the Czech Republic it is the commitment to reduce total GHG emissions by 8 % in 2008–2012 as against the base year 1990 (for HFC, PFC and SF6 1995 was set as the base year). The implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in the European Union is supported legislatively by the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council No. 280/2004/EC and by the respective implementation regulation2. This Decision is currently under revision in order to include the requirements to supply data requested by the newly adopted legislation at the EU level.

The national inventory system, requested by the Kyoto Protocol and by the above mentioned Decision, should ensure the institutional, legislative and procedure arrangements necessary for the fulfilment of all key activities connected with the inventory process of GHG. In the Czech Republic the body responsible for the proper operation of the national inventory system is the Ministry of the Environment. The ministry authorized the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI) to coordinate the preparations of the inventory process and be in charge of the delivery of the requested data and text outputs. One of the procedures includes the implementation of QA/QC control mechanisms, which can result in recalculation of the values if necessary. Therefore the presented data on the values of GHG emissions and removals for individual years may be changed.

The Kyoto Protocol is valid for the limited period 2008–2012, therefore there have been negotiations for several years aimed at the follow up agreement ensuring the effective regulation of GHG emissions. Since the first decade of this century there has prevailed the opinion that the obligatory regulation measures aimed at GHG emission reduction should be extended to further states, and mainly by those considered so far as developing countries, whose economies, however, have developed dynamically recently and their share in total GHG emission has been significantly increasing (e.g. China, Brazil, South Africa etc.). The year 2009 should have been a key year in this process as it was expected that on the 15th UN FCCC Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen the new agreement which would ensure the follow up of the reduction commitments of the developed countries after 2013 and the extension of obligatory regulation measures to further countries would be concluded. The result however did not meet expectations because the participating countries declared only their non-binding voluntary commitments. While the developed countries (including the USA which did not ratified the Kyoto Protocol) promised concrete targets for reducing emissions by 2020 (in % as compared to the selected reference year) the developing countries declared another form of these promises, and namely the quantification of their mitigation measures. Nevertheless, the conference in Cancun (Mexico) succeeded, within the so called Cancun agreement, in strengthening the obligatory character of the above promises from Copenhagen and thus to increase the chance of adopting more complex and legally-binding agreement at the Durban conference in 2012.

Climate protection is the priority issue in the environmental policy of the European Union. At present the EU deals both with emission mitigation and with the adaptation measures to combat climate change. The main tool of emission mitigation is represented by the Climate change and energy package which contains inter alia the directive updating and extending the European Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), as well as the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council No. 406/2009/EC on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Communitys greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020.

As concerns the determination of GHG emissions and their removals it will be desirable to focus on the application of the latest scientific knowledge3. In addition it will be necessary to consider the requirements ensuing from the above international agreements at the global and European levels. Consequently, it will be necessary to adapt the national inventory system to the envisaged changes during the next years with the stress on improving its quality and reliability.

Results of National Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The total greenhouse gas emissions including their removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) expressed in equivalents of carbon dioxide (CO2eq.), decreased in the Czech Republic from the level 191.9 mil. tonnes in 1990 to 126.1 mil. tonnes in 2009 (Tables I.2.1 and I.2.2). The emissions (without removals from LULUCF) decreased from 195.5 mil. tonnes to 132.9 mil. tonnes, i.e. compared with the reference year 1990 they decreased by 32.0 %. The inventory also includes HFC, PFC and SF6 (fluorine containing substances, so called F-gases) emissions, covered also by the Kyoto Protocol. Their share in total GHG emissions was 0.8 % in 2009. The share of CO2 emissions in total GHG emissions (without LULUCF) was 85.3 % in 2009, the share of CH4 emissions was 8.4 % and the share of N2O emissions 5.5 %.

CO2 – carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas. In most industrialized countries it has the greatest share in total aggregated emissions. In the Czech Republic the 2009 share was 84.4 %. CO2 emissions are caused mainly by fossil fuels combustion, carbonate decomposition in the production of cement, lime, glass, in desulphurization processes and, besides, in metallurgy and chemical industries; CO2 emissions and removals (in total balance of the sector removals have prevailed so far) occur in the sector Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). In the Czech Republic the largest shares of CO2 emissions from combustion processes are contributed by solid fuels, to a less extent liquid and gaseous fuels.

The amount of CO2 emissions produced by individual activities is illustrated in Fig. I.2.1. Between 1990 and 2009 they decreased by 31.1 % which was contributed mainly by the decrease in the sectors Energy – Manufacturing industries and Other sectors (Residential, Commercial/Institutional). The decrease of emissions during combustion in the sector Manufacturing industries and Construction in the early 90s was given by the depression and re-structuring of several industrial branches, at the end of the monitored period the emissions decreased due to saving policy and implementation of new technologies. The emission reduction in Other sectors is the result of more effective energy use (growing energy efficiency, mainly thermo-insulation of buildings and economical use of energies). On the contrary, the situation in the sector Transport is quite different; the emissions increased 2.5 times as compared with the year 1990, which is given by the development of transport, mainly of individual automobile transport and road truck transport. The CO2 emissions development was positively influenced by the decreasing share of solid fuels and by the growth of the share of natural gas, and beginning from 2003 also by the use of biomass. During the recent years, however, the gas prices have markedly increased, which in some localities resulted in the switch to other type of fuels.

CH4 – methane

Anthropogenic methane emissions in the Czech Republic have their origin mainly in mining, processing and distribution of fuels; this type of source is called a fugitive source. Other significant methane emission sources are as follows: animal breeding, anaerobic decomposition of biowaste during landfilling and treatment of waste water. There is one highly important source of methane emissions at international level, and namely rice growing. Methane is created in animal breeding during digestion processes (mainly in cattle) and during decomposition of manure.

Methane is the second significant greenhouse gas with regard to the production in the Czech Republic. Its share in total aggregated greenhouse gases emissions has decreased from 9.7 % in 1990 to 8.9 % in 2009. The amount of methane emissions produced by different activities is presented in Fig. I.2.2. In 1990–2009 the methane emissions decreased by 39.8 %, which was caused mainly by the reduction of coal mining and of the livestock numbers, to a lesser extent also by lower consumption of solid fuels in households. The increase of emissions in the Waste sector is reduced by the use of landfill gas or biogas for energy production.

N2O – nitrous oxide

The largest amount of nitrous oxide emissions has its origin in agricultural activities, mainly in denitrification of nitrogen supplied to the soil in artificial fertilizers or manure and other organic material. The production of nitric acid is another major source of nitrous oxide; and, to a lesser extent, also the Transport sector (cars with catalytic convertors).

The share of nitrous oxide in total aggregated GHG emissions has decreased from 6.5 % in 1990 to 5.8 % in 2009. The amount of emissions of this greenhouse gas produced by individual activities is shown in Fig. I.2.3. In 1990–2009 nitrous oxide emissions decreased by 41.1 %, mainly as a result of the reduction of artificial fertilizers in agriculture, the decrease of the livestock numbers and recently also due to the implementation of technologies aimed at N2O emissions abatement in the production of nitrous acid.

Fluorinated gases

The share of the fluorinated gases (F-gases) in total aggregated emissions increased as compared with the year 1995, set as the base year with regard to the Kyoto Protocol, from 76 to 1 337 Gg CO2eq. in 2009. Similarly, the share in total aggregated emissions has increased as well (from 0.05 % in 1995 to 0.95 % in 2009). Fluorinated gases are not produced in the Czech Republic and all their consumption is covered by import. They are used mainly in the refrigeration and air conditioning equipments (mainly HFCs), in electrical equipments (mainly SF6), and in a number of other branches (e.g. as sound-proof windows, plasma etching, fire extinguisher charges, aerosol propellants, blowing agents). The growth of emissions from fluorinated gases is caused by their use as substitutes for substances depleting the Earths ozone layer (CFC, HCFC – mainly as refrigerants), large-scale use of modern technologies (air conditioning) and the production specialization in the Czech Republic (production of cars, air conditioning systems). In some cases, e.g. in sound-proof windows, plasma etching and blowing agents, the used amount has stagnated or decreased, which is connected with the implementation of the new technologies and/or the use of substitutes. The decline in the years 2007–2009 is caused partly by economic crisis connected with the decline of production of passenger cars and the production processes in general.
The sum of F-gases emissions in the period 1995–2009 is presented in Fig. I.2.4.

More detailed data on GHG emissions and removals in the Czech Republic are presented at the CHMI website: or in the National Inventory Report of the Czech Republic4. Similar information from all EU states is regularly collected and published by EEA as reports5 and in interactive internet database6.

Emission trading system

The greenhouse gas emission (CO2) allowance trading scheme is regarded as an effective economic tool for the reduction of GHG emissions. At present there are two integrated systems in the Czech Republic – The European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol: Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation and International Emission Trading.

CHMI takes an active part in both systems. The CHMI experts have participated from the very beginning in the preparation and implementation of the EU ETS in the Czech Republic, mainly as concerns the methods (monitoring, reporting and verifying greenhouse gases emissions). The interaction of the national GHG emissions inventory and EU ETS has a mutual character: national inventory brings several data for emission calculation from selected processes and, on the other hand, the selected data obtained within the EU ETS are used when processing the national inventory.

As concerns the use of flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, the implementation and operation of the National inventory system is the fundamental and inevitable condition for the possibility to use the International Emission Trading. As for the Joint Implementation projects, this practice results in a markedly lower administrative burden, and consequently, lower costs for their implementation.

In 2009 the amount of emissions produced by the Czech enterprises involved in EU ETS was by 8.2 % lower than in 2008. The 2009 emissions amounted to 73.8 Mt CO2, which is a markedly lower value than expected by the National Allocation Plan for the Czech Republic with 85.8 million allowances for the year 2009. The results are presented in Table I.2.3.

The marked decrease of emissions monitored within the EU ETS (mainly from the production of iron, steel and building materials between 2007 and 2009) is caused clearly by the economic crisis. Based on the comparison with the data for the year 2010 it can be concluded that their decrease caused by the crisis has stopped.

Tab. I.2.1 Total emissions of greenhouse gases, 1990–2009 [Mt CO2 eq.]

Tab. I.2.2 Emissions of greenhouse gases structured by sectors, 1990 to 2009 [Mt CO2 eq.]

Tab. I.2.3 Emissions of CO2 verified and reported in the ETS scheme, 2005–2010 [Mt CO2 eq.]

Fig. I.2.1 Emissions of carbon dioxide structured by sectors, 1990–2009

Fig. I.2.2 Emissions of methane structured by sectors, 1990–2009

Fig. I.2.3 Emissions of nitrous oxides structured by sectors, 1990–2009

Fig. I.2.4 Emissions of F-gases, 1995–2009

1 Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Vol. 1–3, IPCC 1997
Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National GHG Inventories, IPCC 2000
Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry, IPCC 2003

2 by 2005/166/EC Commission Decision laying down rules implementing Decision No. 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol

3 IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K.B., Signor, M. and Miller, H.L. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 996 pp.
IPCC 2006, 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Prepared by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, Eggleston, H.S., Buendia, L., Miwa, K., Ngara, T. and Tanabe, K. (eds). Published: IGES, Japan.


5 Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2007 and inventory report 2009

6 Greenhouse gases emissions and Global Warming Potential (GWP)