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

The European Union cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2 % in 2018, according to preliminary estimates released today 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.

Reducing GHG emissions: more national efforts needed towards 2030

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 project to achieve their targets with additional policies.

EU Emissions Trading System: emissions down, auctioning revenues up

A separate EEA briefing on the EU ETS shows that total emissions from stationary installations declined by 4.1 % from 2017 to 2018. This decrease was particularly driven by the reduced use of coal in power plants. In contrast, emissions from airlines continued to increase, by 4.0 % in 2018 due to the growing demand in air travel.

Collectively, Member States’ projections with existing national policies indicate a 36 % cut in ETS emissions by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. This is not yet in line with the targeted contribution of a 43 % reduction, the EEA briefing notes.

Fewer EU emission allowances were auctioned in 2018 but revenue from those auctions increased from EUR 5.5 billion to EUR 14.1 billion, due to the increase in the average allowance price from EUR 5.8 per tonne in 2017 to EUR 15.5 per tonne in 2018.

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