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Climate change: Where are Europe’s biggest polluters?

Credit: Pixabay

The Belgian NGO Transport & Environnement has recently listed the top ten polluters in Europe.  For the first time a airline company has made it into the list.

For the first time an airline company has featured in the top 10 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe.  The Irish company Ryanair has emitted the equivalent to 9.9 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018.  The report highlights an increase of 6.9% in one year and 49% in five years for the the Irish company.  Ryanair comes in the tenth place which is nothing to be proud about, but the company is not the worst culprit. Nine coal power plants come before Ryanair in the list, seven of which are based in Germany.

Here is a list of the top ten greenhouse gas emitters in Europe in 2018:

1. Bełchatów power plant (Poloand) : 38.3 megatons of CO2

2. Neurath power plant (Germany) : 32.2 megatons of CO2

3. Niederaussem power plant (Germany) : 25.9 megatons of CO2

4. Jänschwalde power plant (Germany) : 22.8 megatons of CO2

5. Weisweiler power plant (Germany) : 16.8 megatons of CO2

6. Schwarze Pumpe power plant (Germany): 12.4 megatons of CO2

7. Lippendorf power plant (Germany) : 11.7 megatons of CO2

8. Maritsa Iztok Complex power plant (Bulgaria) : 10.5 megatons of CO2

9. Boxberg Werk IV power plant (Germany) : 10.2 megatons of CO2

10. Ryanair (Ireland) : 9.9 megatons of e CO2

“When it comes to climate, Ryanair is the new coal.stated Andrew Murphy Aviation Manager at the Belgian NGO T&E, “This trend will only continue until Europe realises that this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.”

Arline company among of the top ten polluters in Europe. Credits: Pixabay

No taxes and more passengers

The polluting-paying principle does apply to airline companies however the amount paid back remains tiny (800 million euros per year for all European companies) compared to the bill for introducing a possible fuel tax and a VAT on kerosene (estimated to be about 27 billion euros).

The number of people choosing to fly also remains to be one of the biggest contributing factors.  New planes are emitting less CO2 but at the same time there are an increasing number of people choosing to fly than use other means of transport that are more expensive like trains. Ryanair transported 10 million passengers more than last year.  From a global point of view,  in 2018, more than 4.4 billion travelers chose to fly instead of using other forms of transport.

However this trend could soon go the other way.  In Sweden for example, “the shame of taking the plane” is pushing more travelers to choose the train.  This growing sentiment nicknamed “flygskam”  has become so popular that internal Swedish flights have already seen a reduction in the amount of travelers in the last few months.


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