EU carbon emissions rise in sign of challenge ahead

The European Union’s total carbon emissions from fossil fuels rose last year by 1.8 percent, highlighting the challenge the bloc faces in meeting its climate targets.

The official EU statistics agency, Eurostat, released the early figures this week, which estimated the level of carbon emissions from energy usage across all 28 member states.

It showed that only 7 countries managed to decrease emissions, with the highest amounts seen in Finland, -5.9 percent, and Denmark, on -5.8 percent.

Germany, which has invested heavily in renewable energy, only saw slight reductions of -0.2 percent, given its continued use of coal plants to supply an estimated 40 percent of its electricity needs.

The largest increases in carbon emissions were found in Malta and Estonia, where levels spiked by 12.8 and 11.3 percent. Spain and Portugal also saw unwelcome jumps of over 7 percent.

While the news may provide frustrating reading for EU officials and member states alike, the overall picture is rosier. Emissions between 1990 and 2016 declined by 23 percent, which means the union is on course to meet its 20 percent target by 2020.

However, the long-term picture is much more challenging: by 2030 emissions should be cut by at least 40 percent on 1990 levels, rising to 80 percent by 2050 if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

The EU has recognised the need to commit significant sums in response to these demands. Just this week, the European Commission put forward proposals to increase the amount it spends on climate change by €114 billion, representing 25 percent of its entire budget.

Whether this is enough to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris climate agreement remains to be seen. Many environmentalists, and French President Emmanuel Macron, believe it should be spending at least 40 percent in making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Source: Eurostat

Photo Credit: shirokazan/Flickr

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