The EU member countries are not doing enough to meet the bloc's 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the European Commission said.
The members of the European Union continue to stumble on the way to their emissions targets for 2030. Eight of the EU’s 28 countries have pledged to phase out coal for electricity production by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EU officials confirmed on Wednesday. Notably, besides coal dependent Poland, major consumer Germany continues to struggle with its own plans, and it is increasingly looking like only a bog shock will get the country to move faster.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, received the pledges as contributions to the bloc’s efforts to deliver on the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Finland aim to do so by 2030, the Spanish commissioner told a press conference in Brussels.
“More and more member states are making the political commitment to phase out coal in the next decade,” EU climate and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.
Canete also added that among the European Union countries introducing or confirming such timelines, France intends to phase out coal by 2022 — before Italy and Ireland by 2025.
While the development is optimistic, the numbers of pledges received by the commission are dismal. Only 8 out of the 28 countries that make up the block have made the commitment. The remaining 20 countries, including heavily coal-dependent Poland, had not submitted timelines for weaning themselves off the fossil fuel.
Berlin-based Climate Analytics said the impact of the pledges was limited as the eight countries account for less than 20 percent of the EU’s total installed coal capacity. “Germany, which currently accounts for around one third of the EU’s coal capacity, is discussing exiting coal between 2035 and 2038,” the policy analyst said.
Under the 2015 Paris treaty, the EU pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. On the whole, the EU executive said the draft plans were insufficient in the areas of renewables and energy efficiency. Last year, the EU decided that energy efficiency should increase across the EU by 32.5% of consumption by 2030 and the share of renewable energies in total consumption should increase to 32%.
During its review on Tuesday, the commission said the bloc is on track to meet that goal but was falling short on its target for renewable energy use and energy savings.
“With plans currently falling short both in terms of renewables and energy efficiency contributions, reaching the EU’s overall climate and energy goals will require a collective step up of ambition,” the Commission said.
Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Lithuania and Portugal offered “significantly high contributions” in reaching the renewable energy goal, the Commission said, but the bloc as a whole might miss its target.
Referring to coal plants, Canete said it is “pretty clear” that fossil fuels have no place in a carbon-neutral economy the commission hopes EU countries endorse for 2050. EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels till Friday to discuss the proposal for its goal for zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Germany, the powerhouse economy of the union, has been a major reason for the struggles of the union lately. From being an ecological leader, the country has buckled down to pressure from first, its diesel suto lobby, then the coal sector, and finally, even its support for renewable subsidies.