EU exceeds 2020 climate targets and reduces emissions by 34%

A new report shows that the EU has reduced greenhouse gas emissions to 34% below 1990 levels by 2020, beating the bloc’s original target figure of 20%. 

According to the official report, which was submitted by The European Environment Agency (EEA) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the preliminary data the EU was on track for its goals was correct. 

Over the past three decades, the European Union has managed to cut emissions by encouraging the use of renewable energy and replacing coal with gas for generating electricity. 

The report shows that there was an unprecedented decline in coal between 1990 and 2020, with usage being approximately three times lower in 2020. Additionally, it points out that some of the reduction is due to warmer European winters reducing demand for heating. 

In 2019, the EU had already managed to reduce its emissions by 26% compared with 1990 levels. Then, COVID-19 lockdowns lowered emissions even further. 

As economies closed due to the pandemic in2020, emissions in the region fell by an additional 11%. The EEA noted in its statement that COVID-19 had “a substantial impact on reducing emissions in 2020.” 

The agency added that “the data confirms a 30-year downward trend which led to the EU achieving its 2020 target to reduce emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels.”

However, despite there being an overall drop in emissions, there were some exceptions. The report shows that manufacturing industries reduced their emissions, but the transport, air conditioning, and refrigeration industries all saw an increase in emissions. 

The results also varied between countries. Most countries managed to lower their emissions, but around 47% of the total net reductions in the last 30 years were due to Germany and the UK – although emissions in the UK started rising after the pandemic and Brexit. 

Emissions also jumped by 18% in early 2021 once European economies started reopening after the pandemic. Rising gas prices have also slowed the switch to gas in the last year. 


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