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Climate change: Significant drop in EU emissions in 2018 but further effort needed to reach 2030 target

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The European Union (EU) cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2 % in 2018, according to preliminary estimates released by the European Environment Agency. However, rising energy consumption continues to hamper progress on the share of energy generated by renewable sources and on energy efficiency. As in previous years, the transport sector remains a particular concern with rising GHG emissions, low uptake of renewable energy sources and insufficient reductions of transport fuels’ life-cycle emissions.

The EEA report ‘Trends and projections in Europe 2019 — Tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets’ presents analysis of the EU progress towards the 2020 and 2030 targets for climate and energy. The analysis is based on official statistics on energy and GHG emissions up to 2017; preliminary data for 2018, including the 'approximated EU GHG inventory'; and national projections of GHG emissions reported in 2019.


The EEA analysis shows that the EU is firmly on track to achieve its 2020 target to reduce GHG emissions by 20%, compared with 1990 levels. Preliminary data from Member States indicate that the EU’s total emissions decreased by 2.0% in 2018, bringing the total reductions to 23.2% below 1990 levels.


However, Member States’ projections are not yet in line with the target for 2030 of at least a 40% reduction in GHG emissions. According to the EEA analysis, Member States’ current policies can deliver only a 30% reduction by 2030, while implementing all reported planned policies could bring the total reduction to 36%. Based on 2019 reports to the EEA, only Greece, Portugal and Sweden expect to reach their 2030 Effort Sharing targets on time with current policies and measures in place. Seven other Member States (Belgium, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Spain) project to achieve their targets with additional policies.


The EEA estimates that final energy consumption — energy consumed by end users — in the EU in 2018 grew for the fourth consecutive year, by 0.1 %. The worrying overall trend is most prevalent in buildings, where final energy consumption increased by 8.3 % from 2014 to 2017, and in transport where the increase was 5.8 % in the same period. Meanwhile, estimates indicate that primary energy consumption — total energy demand — decreased by 0.9 % in 2018.


With these trends, meeting the 2020 energy efficiency target appears increasingly difficult, the EEA warns. Moreover, to meet the 2030 target of 32.5 % reductions, EU energy consumption needs to decline more than twice as fast as it did from 2005 to 2017. Despite the overall trends and the risk of missing the 2020 energy efficiency target at EU level, a number of Member States have demonstrated notable progress in this area, the EEA notes.


Read the full article here.