EU carbon emissions rose in 2017: Eurostat

FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station, Europe's biggest coal-fired power plant, in this May 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Peter Andrews/Files

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels increased in 2017, statistics office Eurostat said on Friday, indicating that the reduction of emissions blamed for climate change remains a challenge.

Carbon emissions in the EU were up 1.8 percent from 2016, Eurostat said, with a double-digit increase in Malta and Estonia.

Finland and Denmark showed the sharpest declines while emissions in Germany, the bloc’s largest economy and still dependent on coal for 40 percent of its electricity, was little changed.

The European Union is vocal about trying to save the Paris Agreement on climate change after the United States said it would withdraw from the deal. The agreement seeks to keep increases in the planet’s average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The bloc aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, with a 60 percent drop by 2040.

While the 2008 financial crisis had a dampening effect on industrial activity, recent increases in economic growth have been accompanied by higher emissions of carbon.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by David Goodman