Greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union fell by almost 2% between 2012 and 2013, putting the EU close to its 2020 reduction target, according to data released this week by the European Environment Agency.
“According to latest estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 fell by 1.8% compared to 2012 and reached the lowest levels since 1990,” an EU statement said. “So not only is the EU well on track to reach the 2020 target, it is also well on track to overachieve it.”
Hydroelectric power has been an integral component of the EU’s efforts in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions and producing 20% of its power with renewable sources.
The EEA’s analysis of member states’ own projections show the EU is likely to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 21% of 1990 levels by 2020, surpassing its 20% target. Meanwhile, the report shows 14% of the EU’s energy was generated by renewable sources in 2012, which is ahead of its projections to hit the 20% mark by the end of the decade.
“Our analysis shows that Europe is on track towards its 2020 targets,” EEA executive director Hans Bruyinickx said. “Even against the backdrop of economic recession in recent years, we can see that policies and measures are working and have played a key role in reaching this interim result.”
Bruyinickx cautioned, however, that the EU’s individual member states should not lag in their efforts.
The EEA said nine member states are making “good progress” in attaining the EU’s three policy objectives, including greenhouse gas emissions reduction, renewable energy development and energy efficiency, none of the EU’s 28 states is underperforming in all three areas.
However, the EEA noted that three members are “at risk” to miss their individual targets under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision, while six countries will not likely meet their 2020 emissions targets.
“There is no room for complacency,” he said. ‘The analyses we are publishing today also highlight countries and sectors where progress has been slower than planned.”
HydroWorld.com reported in January that the EU had outlined the framework of a proposed 2030 climate and energy policy, which established a target of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels. The framework also stipulates that renewables make up at least 27% of the EU’s energy mix, with a minimum 27% reduction in energy consumption.
Support for the 2030 plan was again emphasized today with the release of the EEA’s annual progress report.
“Delivering on 2020 climate goals shows that Europe is ready to step up its act,” EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. “The policies work. Therefore, the EU leaders last week decided to continue the ambition and reach at least 40% by 2030. This will require significant investments.
“That’s why it is encouraging that member states have decided to use most of their current [emissions trading system] revenues to invest in climate and energy and continue the transformation to a low-carbon economy.”
The EU has said that it’s longer-term objectives include decarbonizing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050.