European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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3 November 2015

Europe’s energy transformation falling behind in spite of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

Green energy and emission cut

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) released the "Trends and projections in Europe 2015". The report states that greenhouse gas emissions in Europe decreased by 23% between 1990 and 2014 and reached the lowest levels on record and that the EU is moving towards emissions reduction target of at least 40% in 2030.

There is no reason to be satisfied however, as a large part of the recorded reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions is attributable to slow growth and recession, rather than to an ambitious climate policy framework and investment into low carbon economy.

In contrast with the EEA’s claim for EU’s leadership role in the global climate policy, a recent publication of the ETUI shows that there has been erosion in Europe’s leading role in the green transformation due to austerity policies. Between 2004 and 2011, clean energy investment in Europe rose six-fold and Europe was outperforming China and the US combined.

Europe is losing ground

From 2012, there has been a spectacular collapse. By the end of 2014 clean energy investment in Europe had fallen by 53% from its peak level in 2011. Moreover the collapse in clean energy investment takes place alongside a modest energy efficiency policy, which will struggle to attain the 2020 targets.

“It is clear that energy efficiency has always been a weak point of European climate policies and unfortunately the 2030 targets omit again to set binding rules at national level to achieve said targets”, says Bela Galgóczi, editor of the book Europe’s energy transformation in the austerity trap.

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