EU greenhouse gas emissions declined by 2% in 2018 and reached their lowest level since 1990. In 2018, emissions were 23% below the 1990 level, while the GDP had increased by 61%. Implementation will have to be accelerated significantly, the annual EU Climate Action Progress Report adopted today concludes, to reach 2030 targets and for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The EU is cutting emissions while its economy is growing. We are ahead of our overall 2020 target with solid progress in transforming power generation. But Europe cannot rest on its laurels. I am concerned that reaching energy efficiency targets, CO2 standards of cars and vans, as well as decarbonizing transport fuels in 2020 cannot yet be taken for granted. At the same time Europe’s forests and lands are removing less carbon every year. I expect necessary investments to be further stepped up already over the coming months, and the adoption of adequate national energy and climate plans by the end of the year.”
The European Commission today adopted four reports presenting how the EU and its Member States implement EU climate policy:
The EU Climate Action Progress Report shows that from 2017 to 2018, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU declined the most in sectors covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), in particular power plants. Emissions from installations covered by the EU ETS were reduced by 4.1% compared to 2017. Emissions not covered by the EU ETS, such as emissions from transport, buildings, agriculture and waste, decreased by 0.9%. The reduction comes after three years of slightly increasing emissions from these sectors. A worrying trend is that removals of CO2 from the atmosphere have declined over the past five years. In net accounted CO2 removals, the decrease amounts to 40% of the total accounted sink. The decrease is mainly due to a decline in the forest sink, eg. because of increased biomass use but also to forest fires.
While the EU as a whole is expected to overachieve its 2020 target of reducing emissions by 20% compared to 1990, a number of short term challenges arise:
The EU needs to further accelerate implementation to achieve its 2030 targets. The effective implementation of all climate, energy and mobility targets laid down in Union law could lead to EU greenhouse gas reductions up to around 45% in 2030 compared to 1990. Member States are currently planning how to meet their targets and obligations in these areas. If all planned policies and measures are implemented, the EU could reduce emissions in non-ETS sectors by 27 to 28% by 2030, as compared to 2005. To achieve the EU emissions reduction target of 30% for non-ETS sectors, the renewables target and most notably the ambitious energy savings target, a large number of Member States will urgently need to identify and implement additional measures. The first ever national energy and climate plans, to be submitted by Member States by the end of 2019, will need to lay out the required policies and measures, together with an identification of investment needs.
The Carbon Market Report shows that, in addition to the emission reductions highlighted above, the strengthened price signal in the European carbon market in 2018 led to a record amount of revenues for Member States from the auctioning of ETS allowances. The generated amount equaled to some EUR 14 billion - more than doubling the revenues generated in 2017. Member States spent or planned to spend close to 70% of these revenues on advancing climate and energy objectives - well above the 50% required in the legislation. Concerning the surplus of allowances in the market, the 2019 Market Stability Reserve surplus indicator continues to lead to placing allowances in the reserve, reducing the 2019 auction volume by nearly 40% (almost 400 million allowances).
The Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide (so-called CCS Directive) establishes a legal framework for the environmentally safe geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). The third CCS Directive Implementation Report shows that there is still very limited application of the provisions of the Directive. Nonetheless, the Member States that are interested in CCS as mitigation technology continue to support research and development activities. The report also shows that the CCS Directive provisions have been correctly applied in the EU Member States that reported over the period. Many of them continuously support the research and demonstration activities on CCS through national programmes and funds or are involved in a number of European research and collaborative projects, which demonstrates growing interest and potential in this matter.
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