Charts du Jour, 11 March 2015: EU Emissions and Renewable Targets

The ‘Chart of the Day’ tag was supposed to be accompanied by one chart and a short accompanying commentary. In reality, I have hardly ever managed to restrict myself to one chart. Oh well, such is life. Facing up to this reality, I will rename these posts ‘Charts du Jour’, starting off with the EU’s emissions and renewable targets.

I’ve been meaning to blog about the renewable road maps of various European countries for a long time. This is a big topic and draws a lot of uninformed comment in the media. For example, is Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ a disaster or a roaring success? Pick up a few newspapers and you see this question argued passionately both ways.

But to start with, let’s set the scene by focussing on the European Union level legislation that sits above all national policies. The centre piece of this is European Council‘s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990. This was reconfirmed in February 2011 as Europe’s contribution to keeping climate change below 2 degrees Celsius as agreed upon at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks.

To meet this commitment, the European Commission has draw up “a roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy by 2050”. You can find the document here. And within this document is this chart (click for larger image):

EU GHG Emission Reductions jpeg

The EU has also passed legislation establishing climate and energy targets for 2020. These are known as the “20-20-20” targets and are as follows:

  • A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels
  • Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewables to 20%
  • A 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency

The EU has also discussed in the past raising the emissions reduction target from 20% to 30% (here), but this was conditional on other advanced countries signing up to similar targets (not achieved to date). However, in October 2013, EU leaders did agree to reduce emissions to by 40% compared with 1990 levels by 2030.

Going back to the 2020 targets, individual country targets were established based on the wealth of the country in question. The base year for these was 2005 as opposed to 1990. As you can see, poorer countries are allowed to increase emissions (click for larger image):

Member States Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits


Similarly, the renewable targets differ country by country, but principally take into account a country’s natural endowments. Accordingly, countries like Norway with large established hydro-electric capacity have high targets (source here; click  for larger image).


This just sets the scene for future posts.


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