Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions due to the EU ETS: Milestones in Greece and EU-27


Greece ranks 4th in the EU-27 in emissions reduction from the electricity and heat production and energy-intensive industry sectors between 2005 – the year the ETS started – and 2023 (-65.4%). It has already exceeded the EU’s 2030 target of a 62% reduction.

All time low in emissions from electricity and heat production (-71%) thanks to the rapid decline in the use of lignite. With the second lowest emissions in the last decade industry shows little progress. Rising emissions in aviation sector.

In 2023 the largest polluter is Agios Dimitrios TPP despite its shrinking production. However, emissions from fossil gas plants exceeded those from lignite plants.

Since its launch in 2005, and amidst multiple crises, the EU Emissions Trading System has been pushing some of the major polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, now measuring significant milestones.

The annual report by The Green Tank titled “Trends in the Emissions Trading System in the EU and in Greece   2005-2023” analyzes the emission trends of the three sectors included in the ETS (electricity & heat production; industry; aviation) for the period 2005-2023 in both the EU-27 and Greece. The analysis is based on the latest data published in 2024 by the Union Registry and the European Environment Agency. At the same time, the report presents the top polluters in Greece and the ranking of the most polluting sectors from 2005 to 2023.

The main findings are summarized as follows:

– 2023 saw the lowest emissions in the sectors included in the ETS since 2005 -the starting year of the ETS- in both the EU-27 (1,114.8 million tons) and Greece (29 million tons).

Greece ranks 4th among Member States regarding the reduction of emissions from the electricity and heat production and energy-intensive industry sectors between 2005 and 2023 (-65.4%).

– Greece outperformed by 17 percentage points the EU-27, which reduced its emissions by 3% over the same period, and the EU average emission reduction target for 2030 (-62% compared to 2005).

Progress in Greece is mainly attributed to the reduction in the use of lignite in electricity production (-85.8% fewer emissions in 2023 compared to 2005). The reduction from fossil gas plants was much smaller in the same period (-3.7% between 2005 and 2023), while 2023 -for the second time after 2021- exceeded those from lignite-fired plants.

Industry showed little progress, recording the second lowest emissions in the last decade (12.2 million tons), just short of the 2020 all-time low. Emissions from refineries have been relatively stagnant, while the cement production sector saw a slight increase over the past year. The overall reduction was mainly driven by other industrial sectors, such as aluminum, mining and fertilizers.

The Agios Dimitrios TPP firmly leads the ranking of the top 10 polluters in Greece, while in 2023, Ptolemaida 5, the new PPC plant, joined the list (4th place). The top five is completed by the three large refineries: Motor Oil (2nd place), Hellenic Petroleum in Elefsina (3rd place) and Hellenic Petroleum in Aspropyrgos (5th place).

“Since 2005, the EU ETS has been a key contributor to the decarbonization process. However, further emission reductions should not be taken for granted. Increased gas use and delayed implementation of green practices in industry can be significant barriers. Shielding households from the upcoming ETS 2 is also a major challenge. Rational management of the resources is needed for the faster and socially equal decarbonization in the buildings and transport sectors.” said Ioanna Souka, The Green Tank data analyst and lead author of the report.


  • Having established itself as one of the most effective EU climate policy tools under the “fit for 55” legislative package, from January 2024 the ETS will cover the shipping sector, while from 2027 or 2028 at the latest, a second, distinct Emissions Trading System (ETS 2) will be introduced, covering greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings and road transport sectors. To address the socio-economic impacts of ETS-2, and in particular to support the most vulnerable households and businesses, the Social Climate Fund was created and the relevant Regulation was adopted.
  • You can read the full report entitled “Trends in the Emissions Trading System in the EU and Greece 2005-2023” at this link.
  • You can read more about the history and operation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in the update EU ETS 101 Guidebook, which is being produced by Carbon Market Watch as part of the Life ETX project. The Green Tank contributed to the Guide as a project partner. It is available at this link.