(Reuters) – Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union fell by nearly 3% in the first quarter of 2023, even as the bloc’s economy grew slightly, statistics agency Eurostat said on Wednesday.

The EU’s emissions over the January to March quarter amounted to 941 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents, down 2.9% from a year earlier, while the economy grew 1.2% year-on-year.

As the world grapples with increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather from climate change, including heatwaves in Portugal and Spain, the EU is pushing towards its target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Earlier this year it banned the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

Emissions fell in 21 of the bloc’s 27 countries, with the largest decreases seen in Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovenia. They grew however in Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Households were responsible for the biggest share – nearly a quarter – of total greenhouse gas emissions, Eurostat said, while manufacturing accounted for a fifth.

Electricity and gas supply – the sector where emissions fell the most – still contributed 19% to the total figure, with agriculture accounting for 13% and transportation and storage responsible for 10%.

(Reporting by Olivier Sorgho)

FILE PHOTO: A Stop sign stands in front of the Neurath lignite power plant of German utility RWE, west of Cologne, Germany, January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo