Greenhouse gas emissions regulated under Europe's carbon market fell by 13.3% last year, with those from the airlines sector down by almost two-thirds, the European Commission said late on Thursday.
Around 40% of the European Union's output of greenhouse gases is regulated by the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the bloc's flagship policy for tackling global warming which charges companies for the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2).
"As one of the sectors most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, aviation saw the steepest reduction in emissions," the Commission said, citing a 64.1% fall.
Emissions in the power sector fell 14.9% on lower electricity consumption and factors including the replacement of coal- with gas-fired power generation.
Industrial emissions were down 7% on average with the sharpest drop seen in the iron and steel sector.
Total verified greenhouse gas emissions from stationary installations, such as power plants and factories, were 1.331 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2020, a drop of 11.2%.
Emissions from the aviation industry were 24.5 million tonnes of CO2e, compared with 68.2 million tonnes CO2e in 2019, the Commission said.
While lower energy demand generally helped reduce emissions, the Commission noted it is "not possible with current data to determine how much of this reduction can be attributed to gains in emissions efficiency".
The figures, based on more than 95% of reported emissions from participating sectors and countries, were slightly lower than analyst expectations based on raw data which were published this month.