European Commission: Fourth report on the State of the Energy Union

On April 9, the European Commission has published the Fourth report on the State of the Energy Union. The report confirms that the Commission is committed to making the EU the world leader on renewable energy, to placing energy efficiency first and to continuing to lead global efforts to fight climate change.

The report argues that the transition to a modern, low-carbon and energy-efficient economy is well underway, and Europe is on a credible pathway to meeting its Paris Agreement commitments. The EU is well on track to achieve its 2020 target for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. a reduction in emissions of 20 % by 2020 compared to 1990 levels). Between 1990 and 2017, the EU economy grew by 58 %, while emissions decreased by 22%, according to preliminary data submitted by the Member States. The decoupling between GDP growth and CO2 emission is therefore a reality, as showed in the graph "Figure 1: Changes in EU Gross Domestic Product (in real terms), EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and GHG-emissions intensity of the EU economy" at page 3 of the Report.

Since 1990, emissions have decreased in all economic sectors except transport. The most marked fall has been in emissions from energy supply (Figure 2). Economic growth is less dependent on energy consumption. Both energy productivity and the greenhouse gas intensity of energy consumption have continuously improved in the EU, thanks primarily to energy efficiency measures in Member States.

Strong growth continued in the renewable sector but with an unequal deployment. Since 2014, the share of renewable energy in the EU energy mix has significantly increased, reaching 17.5 % in 2017. Investments in renewable energy are increasingly driven by market decisions and Member States increasingly grant support for renewable energy through competitive tenders and ensure that renewable energy installations are integrated in the electricity market, as required by State aid rules. This has significantly decreased the costs of renewable deployment. However, the penetration of renewable energy varies across sectors, with renewable energy reaching 30.8 % in the electricity sector, but only 19.5 % in the heating and cooling sector, and 7.6 % in the transport sector. The pace of increase in the share of renewable energy has also slowed since 2014. While the EU is on track to meet its 2020 targets for renewable energy, efforts should be stepped up to ensure that 2030 targets are met.  

In 2017, 11 Member States already had a renewable energy share above their 2020 targets. In addition, 21 Member States met or exceeded their average indicative trajectory from the Renewable Energy Directive for the two-year period 2017-2018. The remaining 7 Member States needed to step up efforts to comply with the average 2017-2018 trajectory towards 2020.

The full report is available here:

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