Greenhouse gas emissions in North Macedonia are on the rise instead of declining


After reaching the historically lowest record of greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, Macedonia unfortunately increased the emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere that are contributing to climate change’s negative effects. The Energy sector is at the forefront of this negative rise.

According to the last data - from 2019, published in the Report on National Greenhouse Gas Inventory of the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM), all the sectors in the country, the forestry sector excluded have together produced 11 267.6 gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalents where almost two-thirds of such emissions come from the energetics sector or 8 501.1 Gg. CO2-eq. Despite this, in 2016, the total emissions of greenhouse gases without the forestry sector were 10 024.1 Gg of carbon dioxide equivalents i.e. in a period of 3 years there is an increase in emissions of hazardous gases into the atmosphere by around 10%.

The negative tendencies on a national level can be seen in other sectors as well. In the agricultural sector, there is a rise in greenhouse gases emissions, from 1 202.6 in 2017 to 1 368.3 Gg. CO2-eq three years later. In the waste sector, there is a rise from 606.7 in 2016 to 635.2 Gg. CO2-eq in 2019. Only in the industrial processes and use of products sector, the greenhouse emissions are almost identical and are around 763 Gg. CO2-eq during both periods.

Even though in the forestry sector the greenhouse emissions depend on forest fires that are seen as an unpredictable factor long-term, still, the latest data about the year 2019, are evidencing a drastic increase in greenhouse gas emissions even in this sector. Unlike 2016, when the forestry sector managed to emit 1 320.6 Gg. CO2-eq, in 2019, primarily due to forest fires there were emissions of hazardous gases into the atmosphere in the amount of 1 634.4 Gg. CO2-eq.

"Significant variations of net emissions are evident in the years 2000, 2007, 2012, 2017, and 2019 when a rise in CO2 emissions were noticed in the Forestry sector and other uses of land (instead of decrease/dive) as a result of the increase in forest fires," states the Report of National Greenhouse Gases Inventory.

This means that state institutions, in cooperation with local self-governments, the NGO sector and the people, should directly work on the prevention of forest fires, in order to be able to control the contribution to greenhouse gas levels on a national level.

In this voluminous document, it is stated that the negative variations toward the rise of greenhouse gas emissions on national levels are due to the increased production of electricity.

"Historically seen, the most dominant type of fuel is coal (mainly lignite) which provides around 40% of the country's total needs. The situation has changed in 2019 because of the oil products which share is 38.5% and natural gas with a share of 8.7% while coal's share dropped to 36.4%, indicates the Report.

The greenhouse gas emissions in the Energetics sector increased by 14% in 2019, compared to 3 years previously, and were happening parallelly with minimal changes in the categories that are part of this sector.

"Most of the greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 come from the Energy industries category (54%), Transportation (27.7%) and Production industries and building (12.6 %). The remaining 2 categories jointly make up 4% of the total emissions in 2019 while the remaining 2% are fugitive emissions, "states the report.

In addition, out of all damaging matters that are emitted into the atmosphere, over 96% of them are actually carbon dioxide emissions coming from the Energetics sector. In this document including many previous reactions by environmentalists, it is stressed that the very use of coal and mazut during the production of electric energy and the use of oil derivatives in transportation have a key influence on the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

As a reminder, last year, Macedonia adopted the Long-term climate action strategy, which main goal is cutting the national greenhouse gas net emissions.

Without the registered emissions coming from the aviation and electric energy import, Macedonia will have to cut the greenhouse gas emissions by 72% by 2050 compared to the levels in 1990 or to achieve greenhouse gas emissions lowering by 42% by 2050 compared to 1990, except for the Forestry, aviation emissions and the import of electricity. This also includes resilience increases in society, the economy, and the ecosystems toward influences caused by climate change.

However, last year Macedonia signed the Glasgow Climate Pact at the Climate change conference (COP 26) that should accelerate the tempo of climate activities directed toward decrease of greenhouse gas emissions in order to maintain the rise of average air temperature on a global level up to 1.5 C and finalization of the exceptional elements from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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