Mitigating climate change: renewables in the EU

Manjola Banja
Fabio Monforti-Ferrario
Katalin Bódis
Albana Kona
Arnulf Jäger-Waldau
Nigel Taylor
Jean-Francois Dallemand
Policies and Targets
Energy Generation and Distribution

The energy sector accounts for the lion’s share (55 %) of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union (EU). While EU emissions had fallen by 22.1 % in 2015 compared with 1990, and continue to fall, the bloc’s economy grew by 27 % over that period. Since the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) entered into force, use of renewables has continued to grow in the 3 EU sectors that consume most energy (electricity, heating/ cooling and transport). This has done much to cut emissions. While the renewable share in gross final energy consumption rose from 12.4 % in 2009 to almost 17 % in 2015, the EU GHG emissions savings through renewables rose year-on-year by an annual average of 9 %. Fossil fuels are increasingly being displaced by renewables. The displacement between 1990 and 2015 amounted to 139 Mtoe equal to 11.5 % of the gross inland consumption of fossil fuels. The electricity sector accounted for almost 40 % of this displacement, with rapidly growing new technologies such as wind and photovoltaics accounting for almost 18 % of total fossil fuel displacement. Without renewable energy sources, total emissions in the EU would have been 8.7 % higher in 2009, 13.8 % higher in 2014 and 14.4 % higher in 2015. This report represents an integrated analysis and provides: (i) a concise overview of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and aggregated emissions (in both the ETS and the ESD sectors), including recent trends in the EU as a whole, and in individual EU countries; (ii) an assessment of the role played by renewables in mitigating climate change in the EU and individual countries between 2009 and 2014; and (iii) a proxy estimate of emissions savings through the use of renewables in 2015.
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