As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU has set itself three climate and energy targets also known as the ‘20-20-20’ targets. These targets include a 20 percent reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions compared with 1990 levels, a 20 percent share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption, and a 20 percent cut in energy consumption compared to the 2020 business-as-usual projection.
The Europe 2020 strategy is the EU’s agenda for growth and jobs for the current decade. It emphasises “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” as a way to overcome the structural weaknesses in Europe’s economy, improve its competitiveness and productivity, and underpin a sustainable social market economy. To reach these objectives, the EU has adopted various targets to achieve by 2020 in five areas: employment, research and development, climate change and energy, education, and poverty reduction.
GHG emission reduction
According to the latest (2018) report on Europe 2020, “EU GHG emissions, including emissions from international aviation and indirect CO2 emissions, were down by 22.4 percent compared with 1990 levels. EU is thus expected to exceed its Europe 2020 target of reducing GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2020.”
The main policy instruments to achieve this target are the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) .
The ETS sets a single EU-wide cap for more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants, as well as for the emissions from flights within the European Economic Area, whereas the ESD sets a binding GHG emissions target for each member state for sectors not included in the EU ETS.
Overall, the EU is projected to achieve its target under the ESD. However, seven countries (Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Germany, and Malta) will not achieve their respective targets according to the 2020 projections made by the European Environment Agency (EEA) .
As mentioned earlier, the EU is set to achieve its overall GHG target. The EEA projections indicate that it will reduce its GHG by 6 percentage points more than the 2020 target with existing measures, and by 7 percentage points in case of adoption of additional measures.
As of 2016, compared to the 1990 levels, five EU countries have actually increased their GHG emissions. The rest have reduced the GHG emissions, 13 countries already by more than 20 percent, according to the latest