Coal-fired power generation is returning in some areas Europe That hasn’t prevented strong progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the data show.
Emissions for the European Union were the lowest in at least 30 years in November, including gas consumption, carbon from the power sector and electricity generation from fossil fuels. According to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
But a small proportion of the decline in fossil fuel use last month should be attributed to weather, the Center for Research on strength and clean air analysis. Milder temperatures reduced gas demand outside the electricity sector by 6% – mostly for heating – while real demand fell by 26%. Within the power sector, milder temperatures could account for two percentage points of the 12% drop in demand, the analysts found.
Laurie Mylivarta, lead analyst and author of the report, said the data showed that accusations of the EU falling behind on climate commitments were wrong. “There is a widespread perception that Europe is lagging behind on climate change because of the Ukraine war,” he said. “There was Frequent comments to that effect at Cop27, says Europe is going back to coal. We’re showing that that didn’t happen—the use of coal was just a misconception.”
Some member states, including Germany and Poland, have sought limited withdrawal of coal for power generation in the face of gas surges and supply disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK has also put coal-fired power plants on standby.
In November, the EU as a whole used less coal than the same month last year and compared to the same month over the past three decades. Germany and Poland both used less coal than a year ago, although Finland slightly increased its coal consumption.
There were dramatic reductions in output from nuclear reactors in Germany and France. In Germany this was made up by increased wind and solar generation, while France significantly reduced its electricity demand.
However, with cold spells this month About 5C below normal for the time of yearAnd snow and ice conditions across much of northern Europe could halt progress on reducing fossil fuel use this winter.
Myllyvirta said: “Everything is conditional on the weather. If we have a big cold spell, we’ll see more gas flare.”
He said there were early signs in December that the low emissions trend was continuing. The first half of December had cooler weather than the previous year, he added, but total emissions were below 2021 levels, showing that the decline in gas and electricity use was not largely due to the weather.
However, emissions in the power sector started to rise again in December. Myllyvirta said the sector continued to be plagued by the poor performance of nuclear power, and air conditions were also poor, but reductions in gas use outside the power sector kept emissions down overall.
He also said, Europe’s energy transition This year showed that the underlying trend was strongly away from fossil fuels. “If someone had said a year ago that Europe could almost eliminate dependence on Russian fossil fuels within 10 months, they would have been taken as completely crazy,” he said. “But we’re pretty close to doing it, and that’s pretty remarkable.”
He added that governments should try to protect their most vulnerable citizens Dangerous effects of rising energy prices That forced such a sudden change. Europe could go further to wean itself off Russian energy and fossil fuels in general, but it should do so equitably, he said.
“It is unfortunate that the decline is so high [in fossil fuel use] Which is happening through high prices Major social and economic impacts“, said Myllyvirta.