The dream has become reality
Since 2007, Europe has pursued its stated ambition to transform itself into a low carbon economy. The EU’s greenhouse gas emissions were to be reduced by 80-95% by 2050, compared to 1990. The Paris Agreement will require even more ambitious targets.
Change is happening. The share of green energy in Europe has increased from 11% in 2007 to 17% in 2016Citation Eurostat, Share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy 2004-2016..
This development is driven primarily by changes in the European power sector. In 2016, for instance, 86% of new generation capacity installed in Europe was renewableCitation EEA, Renewable energy in Europe — 2017 update.. Even so, carbon reductions are not happening fast enough in the power sector. In 2016, for instance, almost half of European power production came from fossil assets.
In other sectors such as transport, industry and buildings, respectively making up 34, 18 and 16% of energy related emissions in Europe Citation EURELECTRIC, Decarbonisation pathways European economy. , change is even slower. With the current pace, it will prove difficult to reach the EU’s carbon reduction target for 2050.
However, in recent years, something remarkable has happened in Europe, which has implications for the whole world: new-built renewable energy became cheaper than new-built energy derived from fossil fuels. For the first time in history, utility scale wind and solar power can outcompete coal and natural gas in power generation across many European countries.