The EUs battle against climate change

In order to help combat the negative impacts of climate change on our world, the EU has come together to slowly stray away from fossil fuels and implement renewable energy resources as its main supply of power.

In 2019, the use of coal in Europe saw a huge decrease of 29%, which has been a great way to start things off. Since then, coal usage has continued to decrease, and we saw a 3% decrease of its use in 2021.

Whilst the number may seem small, it shows that the EU is somewhat heading in the right direction — 15% of electricity generated in the EU last year was using fossil fuels, compared to 22% in 2017.

So far, most countries in the EU have been using renewables to replace gas, rather than coal, with the biggest decrease of gas usage being seen in the Netherlands and Spain.

However, the EU power sector emissions need to fall by 6% every year in order to reach the net zero level by 2035 — meaning we remove an equal amount of CO2 from the atmosphere as we release it. Unfortunately, figures have been dropping at only half the required rate.

Reports show that the EU’s power sector emissions have been off track since 2019 as “progress slows”, and we may go above the required maximum global temperature increase of 1.5C. If this were to happen, it will have drastic effects on the ice in our oceans and will lead to a significant rise in the sea level, and more.

The UN’s Climate Change Conference, COP26, held in Glasgow last year in November, announced that one of their main aims was to stop the usage of coal across the world.

This aim was emphasised by the UN as, prior to the meeting, the rate of the reduction of coal usage had actually begun to slow down.

This was due to the recent increase in gas prices that Europe faced in September 2021. Gas prices rose to such a significant number that companies found it more profitable for power generators to switch to using coal, despite having to buy more allowances for it at a greater price.

This caused a reduction in the speed at which the use of coal had been declining as some countries turned back to this polluting fossil fuel. And therefore, as mentioned earlier, the goal to limit global warming to 1.5C has not been on track.

Although EU countries such as Spain and Greece have closed coal power stations since 2019, that has been mostly offset by increases in the use of coal in Poland, due to the increase in gas prices.

“The current gas crisis should be a huge wake-up call,” journalist Charles Moore has said. “Both coal and gas need to go; and fast.”


Written by Jade Andrew

Research conducted by Jonas Theaker


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