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October 22, 2013
EU hitting GHG targets

In its latest report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, the European Union (EU) states that member states reduced emissions by 12.2 percent between 2008 and 2012 compared to 1990 levels.  That’s well above the 8 percent reduction target required under the Kyoto Protocol, says the EU.  Moreover, the EU says it expects member states to achieve a 21 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020, exceeding its 20 percent reduction target. 

The upcoming GHG reduction target is one element in the three 20 percent goals the EU has for 2020—20 percent reduction in GHGs, 20 percent share of renewable energy in EU’s energy consumption, and 20 percent increase in EU’s energy efficiency.

Economic downturn

Emissions in the 2008 to 2012 period were influenced by a number of factors, including shifts to natural gas in the energy sector and increased use of renewable energy sources.  Reduced production because of the economic slowdown and the accelerated use of offset credits (generated by developing carbon sink projects in other countries) were also factors.  EU’s confidence that it will achieve a 21 percent GHG reduction by 2020 is based in part on the 1 percent reduction in emissions achieved between 2011 and 2012.

The EU summarizes performance:  “While the assessment of Member State progress shows overall relatively good progress toward climate and energy targets, no single Member State is on track toward meeting all three targets.  Equally, no Member State is underperforming in all three areas.”

Renewables and efficiency

Regarding the two energy-specific targets:

  • Renewable energy sources (RES) contributed 13 percent of gross final energy consumption in 28 EU states in 2011.  This exceeded the 10.7 percent RES target for 2011.  The EU concludes that the states are on track toward meeting the 2020 objective.
  • Collectively, the states are not on track toward meeting the 20 percent energy efficiency improvement by 2020.  The EU notes that only Bulgaria, Denmark, France, and Germany are making good progress in reducing energy consumption and primary energy intensity through “well-balanced policy packages” across relevant sectors.  “For most EU Member States, however, the current policies are not sufficiently developed or implemented across the relevant sectors,” says the EU.  “This is due to insufficient enforcement as well as impacts arising from the economic crisis.”

Energy efficiency directive

In 2012, the EU issued an Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), which it believes will “go a long way” toward meeting the 20 percent energy efficiency target.  Major EED requirements for member states include:

  • Establishment of a long-term strategy for residential and commercial building stock;
  • Introduction of smart metering where proven feasible and financially cost-effective;
  • Basing energy billing on real consumption and providing complementary information on historical energy consumption;
  • Identification of the potential for the application of high-efficiency cogeneration as well as for district heating and cooling; and
  • Assurance that national energy regulators encourage demand response programs and that network tariffs take into account the costs and benefits of energy efficiency measures.

Trends and projections in Europe 2013—Tracking progress towards Europe's climate and energy targets until 2020

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