European greenhouse gas reductions prove that we can grow the economy and reduce greenhouse gases at the same time. However, these reductions are unambitious and they also exist alongside new fossil fuel projects.
All of Europe has substantially reduced their GHGs emissions. Between 1990 and 2014 Romania recorded GHG reductions of 56 percent while Lithuania saw cuts of 60 percent. During this time the UK slashed its GHG emissions by 30 percent and as a whole the EU has cut emissions by 23 percent.
The EU has already eclipsed its 2020 target by more than 3 percent. What makes this even more noteworthy is that during this time the EU economy grew by 46 percent. The EU now has the lowest levels of emissions ever recorded and this is great news as we ebb ever closer to COP21.
As reported in the Guardian, EU’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete said:
“We have shown consistently that climate protection and economic growth go hand-in-hand,” he said. “This is a strong signal ahead of the Paris climate conference.:
The European Environment Agency (EEA) projects that EU emissions cuts will be 24 percent in 2020 and 27 percent in 2030. Leaving many asking what happened to the 40 percent commitment by 2030 promised a year ago. Energy is the reasons why the EU is not living up to its promise and insufficient production from renewables.
“To achieve our longer-term goals for 2030 and 2050, a fundamental change is needed in the way we produce and use energy in Europe,” said the EEA’s director Hans Bruyninckx .
Under performance in energy efficiency is also preventing the EU from achieving their targets.
It should be noted that some of the emissions reductions are attributable to the economic recession. While Europe has some of the most progressive climate policies in the world it is still not prepared to let go of fossil fuels.
The EU has a number of fossil fuel-friendly policies, as evident in the so-called Juncker plan. According to 350.org up to €69 billion in high-carbon projects over the next two years and €29 billion in the next two years alone. This includes €16 billion towards coal and €26 billion in gas and oil pipeline infrastructure.
Bringing an end to fossil fuel subsidies would be a great start. However, this spring the European commission dropped calls to end fossil fuel subsidies. If Europe wanted to really cut emissions and show true climate leadership, they would phase out fossil fuels.