Germany is lagging behind: EU sees two climate targets within reach


Good news from Brussels: The European Union is on the home straight for two out of three climate targets for 2020. This does not include the declines in the pandemic period. However, Germany is not allowed to join in the celebrations: The country is falling short of expectations, especially in the transport sector.
The European Union is well on the way to achieving two of its three climate goals for 2020. According to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) published in Copenhagen, the 27 countries – plus the UK – could succeed in two areas: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energies. It is unclear whether the third goal, the reduction of energy consumption, will be achieved. Twelve countries are estimated to be below their targets, including Germany, Austria and Poland.

According to the report, greenhouse gas emissions have steadily decreased since 1990. In the period from 1990 to 2019, the level fell by 24 percent. The original goal by 2020 was a reduction of 20 percent compared to 1990. Above all, the rapid decarbonization of the energy sector has led to considerable and sustained reductions in emissions in the sectors covered by the EU emissions trading system (ETS). The highest decrease of four percent was achieved in 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. This happened during a period of economic growth and reflects long-term, sustainable efforts to lower emissions, the report said.

When it comes to promoting renewable energies, the EU countries are also on the right track, the report continues. Preliminary EEA data indicated that the total share of energy consumption from renewable sources reached 19.4 percent in 2019. The goal for 2020 is 20 percent.

Traffic does not turn the trend

While the share of renewable energies in electricity, heating and cooling contributed to the achievement of the overall EU target, the ten percent target is still a long way off in the transport sector. 14 Member States are encouraged to make further efforts. The raised index finger is also directed at Germany here. The agency would also like to see more effort in reducing energy consumption. According to their estimates, only nine of the 27 member countries are on the right track. “All other Member States must make further efforts to contain their national energy needs and to meet their 2020 targets.”

However, it is expected that the Covid-19 pandemic will make it easier for countries to achieve their goals. The economic downturn has primarily reduced activity in the transport sector and possibly reduced overall energy consumption. To what extent has not yet been calculated. However, environmental experts fear that “the effects of Covid-19-related potential reductions may be short-lived and emissions will rebound when economic activity returns to pre-Covid levels.”

The agency warned that, despite the positive development, sustained and long-term efforts are required to achieve the goals for 2030 and 2050. Frans Timmermans, EU Commissioner for Climate Protection, also sees no reason to lower one’s shoulders. In a communication he said: “The European Union is proving that it is possible to cut emissions while growing the economy. Today’s report confirms once again that we must step up our efforts in all sectors of the economy in order to achieve our common goal of climate neutrality by 2050 to reach.”

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