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No. 231: Denmark's National Inventory Report 2017. Emission Inventories 1990-2015

Nielsen, O.-K., Plejdrup, M.S., Winther, M., Nielsen, M., Gyldenkærne, S., Mikkelsen, M.H., Albrektsen, R., Thomsen, M., Hjelgaard, K., Fauser, P., Bruun, H.G., Johannsen, V.K., Nord-Larsen, T., Vesterdal, L., Callesen, I., Caspersen, O.H., Rasmussen, E., Petersen, S.B., Baunbæk, L. & Hansen, M.G. 2017. Denmark's National Inventory Report 2017. Emission Inventories 1990-2015 - Submitted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Aarhus University, DCE –Danish Centre for Environment and Energy 890 pp. Scientific Report from DCE –Danish Centre for Environment and Energy No. 231. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR231.pdf


ES.1 Background information on greenhouse gas inventories and climate change

ES.1.1 Reporting

This report is Denmark’s National Inventory Report (NIR) 2017 for submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, due April 15, 2017. The report contains detailed information about Denmark’s inventories for all years from 1990 to 2015. The structure of the report is in accordance with the UNFCCC guidelines on reporting and review. The main difference between Denmark’s NIR 2017 report to the European Commission, due March 15, 2017, and this report to UNFCCC is reporting of territories. The NIR 2017 to the EU Commission was for Denmark, while this NIR 2017 to the UNFCCC is for Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The suggested outline provided by the UNFCCC secretariat has been followed to include the necessary information under the Kyoto Protocol. The report includes detailed and complete information on the inventories for all years from year 1990 to the year 2015, in order to ensure transparency.

The annual emission inventories for the years from 1990 to 2015 are reported in the Common Reporting Format (CRF). Within this submission separate CRF’s are available for Denmark (EU), Greenland, the Faroe Islands, for Denmark and Greenland (KP) as well as for Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands (UNFCCC). The CRF spreadsheets contain data on emissions, activity data and implied emission factors for each year. Emission trends are given for each greenhouse gas and for total greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalents.

The issues addressed in this report are: Trends in greenhouse gas emissions, description of each emission category of the CRF, uncertainty estimates, explanations on recalculations, planned improvements and procedure for quality assurance and control. The information presented in Chapters 2-9 and Chapter 11 refers to Denmark (EU) only. Specific information regarding the submission of Greenland and the Faroe Islands is included in Chapter 16 and Annex 8, respectively. Chapter 17 contains information on the aggregated submission of Denmark and Greenland under the Kyoto Protocol (e.g. on trends, uncertainties and key category analysis).

This report itself does not contain the full set of CRF tables. The full set of CRF tables is available at the EIONET, Central Data Repository, kept by the European Environmental Agency:                       


In the report English notation is used: “.” (full stop) for decimal sign and mostly space for division of thousands. The English notation for division of thousand as “,” (comma) is not used due to the risk of being misinterpreted by Danish readers.

ES.1.2 Institutions responsible

On behalf of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building, the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE), Aarhus University, is responsible for the calculation and reporting of the Danish national emission inventory to EU and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and UNECE CLRTAP (Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution) conventions. Hence, DCE prepares and publishes the annual submission for Denmark to the EU and UNFCCC of the National Inventory Report and the greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories in the Common Reporting Format, in accordance with the UNFCCC guidelines. Further, DCE is responsible for reporting the national inventory for the Kingdom of Denmark to the UNFCCC. DCE is also the body designated with overall responsibility for the national inventory under the Kyoto Protocol for Greenland and Denmark. Furthermore, DCE participates when reporting issues are discussed in the regime of UNFCCC and EU (Monitoring Mechanism).

The work concerning the annual greenhouse gas emission inventory is carried out in cooperation with Danish ministries, research institutes, organisations and companies. The Government of Greenland is responsible for finalising and transferring the inventory for Greenland to DCE. The Faroe Islands Environmental Agency is responsible for finalising and transferring the inventory for the Faroe Islands to DCE.

ES.1.3 Greenhouse gases

The greenhouse gases reported are those under the UN Climate Convention:

  • Carbon dioxide               CO2
  • Methane                        CH4
  • Nitrous oxide                   N2O
  • Hydrofluorocarbons      HFCs
  • Perfluorocarbons            PFCs
  • Sulphur hexafluoride    SF6
  • Nitrogen trifluoride       NF3 

The global warming potential (GWP) for various greenhouse gases has been defined as the warming effect over a given time frame of a given weight of a specific substance relative to the same weight of CO2. The purpose of this measure is to be able to compare and integrate the effects of the individual greenhouse gases on the global climate. Typical lifetimes in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases are very different, e.g. approximately 9 and 130 years for CH4 and N2O, respectively. So the time perspective clearly plays a decisive role. The life frame chosen is typically 100 years. The effect of the various greenhouse gases can then be converted into the equivalent quantity of CO2, i.e. the quantity of CO2 giving the same effect in absorbing solar radiation. According to the IPCC and their Fourth Assessment Report, which UNFCCC has decided to use as reference, the global warming potentials for a 100-year time horizon are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2):               1
  • Methane (CH4):                           25
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O):                 298 

Based on weight and a 100-year period, CH4 is thus 25 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 and N2O is 298 times more powerful than CO2. Some of the other greenhouse gases (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) have considerably higher global warming potentials. For example, sulphur hexafluoride has a global warming potential of 22 800. The values for global warming potential used in this report are those prescribed by UNFCCC. The indirect greenhouse gases reported are nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

ES.2 Summary of national emission and removal trends

Summary ES.2-4 refers to the inventory for Denmark only. The inventories for Greenland, Denmark and Greenland and the Faroe islands are described in Chapter 16 and 17 and Annex 8, respectively.

ES.2.1 Greenhouse gas emissions inventory

The greenhouse gas emissions are estimated according to the IPCC guidelines and are aggregated into six main sectors. The greenhouse gases include CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3, although NF3 is not occurring in Denmark. Figure ES.1 shows the estimated total greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalents from 1990 to 2015. The emissions are not corrected for electricity trade or temperature variations. CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas contributing in 2015 to the national total in CO2 equivalents excluding LULUCF (Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry) with 73.2 % followed by N2O with 11.0 %, CH4 14.3 % and F-gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6) with 1.5 %. Seen over the time-series from 1990 to 2015 these percentages have been increasing for CH4 and F-gases, and decreasing for N2O. The percentages for CO2 show larger fluctuations during the time series. Stationary combustion plants, Transport and Agriculture represent the largest contributing categories to emissions of greenhouse gases, followed by Industrial processes and product use, Waste, and fugitive emissions, see Figure ES.1. The net CO2 emission by LULUCF in 2015 is 8.7 % of the total emission in CO2 equivalents excl. LULUCF. The national total greenhouse gas emission in CO2 equivalents excluding LULUCF has decreased by 30.7 % from 1990 to 2015 and decreased 29.7 % including LULUCF. From 2014 to 2015 the total greenhouse gas emission excluding LULUCF decreased by 4.9 %. The decrease is mainly caused by decreasing emissions from the energy sector due to increasing production of wind power and other renewable energy. Comments on the overall trends etc. seen in Figure ES.1 are given in the sections below on the individual greenhouse gases.


ES.2.2 KP-LULUCF activities

Table ES.1 contains information on emissions/removals of greenhouse gases in 2015.

ES.3 Overview of source and sink category emission estimates and trends

ES.3.1 Greenhouse gas emissions inventory


The emission of CO2 from Energy Industries has decreased by 51.6 % from 1990 to 2015. The relatively large fluctuation in the emission is due to inter-national electricity trade. Thus, the high emissions in 1991, 1994, 1996, 2003 and 2006 reflect a large electricity export and the low emissions in 1990, 1992 and 2005, 2008 and 2011-2014 are due to a large import of electricity. The main reason for the decrease in emissions owe to decreasing fuel consumption, mainly for coal and natural gas. This decrease is mainly due to increasing production of wind power and other renewable energy sources.

The increasing emission of CH4 during the nineties is due to the increasing use of gas engines in decentralised cogeneration plants. The CH4 emissions from this sector have been decreasing from 2001 to 2015 due to the liberalisation of the electricity market. The CO2 emission from the transport sector has increased by 15.3 % from 1990 to 2015, which is mainly due to increasing road traffic.

Industrial processes and product use

The GHG emissions from industrial processes and product use, i.e. emissions from chemical processes other than fuel combustion, amount in 2015 to 4.2 % of the total emission in CO2 equivalents (excl. LULUCF). The main sources are cement production, refrigeration, foam blowing and calcination of limestone. The CO2 emission from cement production – which is the largest source contributing in 2015 with 1.9 % of the national total – increased by 5.6 % from 1990 to 2015. The second largest source has previously been N2O from the production of nitric acid. However, the production of nitric acid/fertiliser ceased in 2004 and therefore the emission of N2O also ceased.

The emission of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 has increased by 115.4 % from 1995 until 2015, largely due to the increasing emission of HFCs. The use of HFCs, and especially HFC-134a, has increased several fold and thus HFCs have become the dominant F-gases, contributing 70.1 % to the F-gas total in 1995, rising to 85.4 % in 2015. HFC-134a is mainly used as a refrigerant. However, the use of HFC-134a is now stabilising. This is due to Danish legislation, which in 2007 banned new HFC-based refrigerant stationary systems. However, in contrast to this trend is the increasing use of air conditioning in mobile systems.


The agricultural sector contributes in 2015 with 21.5 % of the total greenhouse gas emission in CO2 equivalents (excl. LULUCF) and is the most important sector regarding the emissions of N2O and CH4. In 2015, the contribution of N2O and CH4 to the total emission of these gases was 88.7 % and 80.6 %, respectively. The N2O emission from the agricultural sector decreased by 28.5 % from 1990 to 2015. The main reason for the decrease is a legislative demand for an improved utilisation of nitrogen in manure. This result in less nitrogen excreted per livestock unit produced and a considerable reduction in the use of fertilisers. From 1990 to 2015, the emission of CH4 from enteric fermentation has decreased due to decreasing numbers of cattle. However, the emission from manure management has increased due to changes in stable management systems towards an increase in slurry-based systems. Altogether, the emission of CH4 for the agricultural sector has increased by 1.1 % from 1990 to 2015.

Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)

Emissions/removals from the forest sector fluctuate based on specific conditions in the given year. The total sector has been estimated to be a net sink of 1.0 % of the total Danish emission incl. LULUCF (average 2011-2015). Forest land has shown to be a large sink for the last five years. The sink has been estimated to 6.0 % of the total Danish emission incl. LULUCF over the period 2011-2015. Cropland has been estimated to be a net source of 4.8% of the total Danish emission incl. LULUCF. This is mainly due to a large area with cultivated organic soils. Grassland is a net source contributing with 2.1 % of the total Danish emission. This is also due to a large area with drained organic soils. Emissions from Cropland have shown a continuous decrease since 1990 with 41 % whereas the emission from Grassland has increased due to conversion of Cropland to Grassland.


The waste sector contributes in 2015 with 2.4 % to the national total of greenhouse gas emissions (excl. LULUCF), 14.0 % of the total CH4 emission and 3.4 % of the total N2O emission. The sector comprises solid waste disposal on land, wastewater handling, waste incineration without energy recovery (e.g. incineration of animal carcasses) and other waste (e.g. composting and accidental fires).

The GHG emission from the sector has decreased by 34.6 % from 1990 to 2015. This decrease is a result of a decrease in the CH4 emission from solid waste disposal sites (SWDS) by 57.3 % due to the increasing use of waste for power and heat production, an increase in emission of N2O from wastewater (WW) handling systems of 2.0 % due to upgrading of WW treatment plants, and an increase in CH4 from WW of 14.2 % due to increasing industrial load to WW systems. In 2015 the contribution of CH4 from SWDS was 9.5 % of the total CH4 emission. The CH4 emission from WW amounts in 2015 to 1.6 % of the total CH4 emissions. The emission of N2O from WW in 2015 is 1.2 % of national total of N2O. Since all incinerated waste is used for power and heat production, the emissions are included in the 1A CRF category.

ES.3.2 KP-LULUCF activities

A more detailed description is given in Chapter 10.

ES.4 Other information

ES.4.1 Quality assurance and quality control

A plan for Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) in greenhouse gas emission inventories is included in the report. The plan is in accordance with the guidelines provided by the UNFCCC (Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Guidelines for National Systems). ISO 9000 standards are also used as an important input for the plan.

The plan comprises a framework for documenting and reporting emissions in a way that emphasize transparency, consistency, comparability, completeness and accuracy. To fulfil these high criteria, the data structure describes the pathway, from the collection of raw data to data compilation and modelling and finally reporting.

As part of the Quality Assurance (QA) activities, emission inventory sector reports are being prepared and sent for review to national experts not involved in the inventory development. To date, the reviews have been completed for the stationary combustion plants sector, the fugitive emissions from fuels sector, the transport sector, the solvents and other product use sector and the agricultural sector. In order to evaluate the Danish emission inventories, a project where emission levels and emission factors are compared with those in other countries has been conducted.

ES.4.2 Completeness

The Danish greenhouse gas emission inventories include all sources identified by the revised IPPC guidelines.

Please see Annex 5 for more information.

ES.4.3 Recalculations and improvements

Recalculations and improvements are continuously made to the inventory. The sector-specific recalculations and improvements are documented in the sectoral chapters of this report (Chapter 3-7) and a general overview is provided in Chapter 9.