Some EU Countries Already Hitting Their 2030 Sustainability Targets

Some EU countries have hit a few of their 2030 renewable energy targets early, including goals related to fuel poverty, according to a new study.

The study, written by by Polish economists Marek Walesiak and Grażyna Dehnel, looked at progress made towards reaching one of the goals set out in the EU’s 2015 resolution ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, which called on member countries to ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’.

Between 2010 and 2021, the period the study focused on, all countries made progress towards reaching this goal, with Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, and Austria being the closest to achieving it. The countries that were the furthest away from the goal were Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta, and Cyprus.

Flags of the countries of the European Union outside European parliament

One target set by the EU is for a share of only 1.88% of each country’s population to be unable to keep their home adequately warm  – in other words, be in fuel poverty – by 2030. Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, and Austria all achieved this target in 2021, with the study finding that Northern and Western EU countries were more likely to be close to the target.

Another target is for at least 40% of the energy consumed by each country to come from renewables by 2030, with Sweden achieving 62.6%, Finland 43.1%, and Latvia 42.1% in 2021, largely thanks to hydropower and solid biofuels.

The study found that “in general, the use of renewable energy in the EU can be said to be steadily growing. This growth is largely due to the use of wind and solar energy. However, the variation in the share of renewables across Member States is still very large.”

The EU’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy has been steadily going down, with a report by Ember, an environmental think-tank, finding that fossil fuel generation dropped by 19% in 2023, compared to 2022, falling to its lowest ever level.

However, challenges remain, mainly in the form of delays to connecting renewable energy projects to the electricity grid. In response to this, the European Commission launched a Grid Action Plan in November 2023, which requires grid planning and infrastructure development to be in line with clean energy targets in all EU member states.

While European countries are already hitting some of their clean energy targets, a recent report by the DNV has warned that the UK is on course to miss its 2030 targets if the government doesn’t ramp up support in key areas such as decarbonising transport and heating.

Fuel-poverty might have significantly decreased in several EU countries, for example, but in the UK there’s a high risk that millions of households will still be fuel-poor by 2030, without more government funding.

With the Labour Party recently massively cutting its promised home insulation budget, and energy efficient retrofits, such as insulation, heat pumps, and solar panels, costing in the thousands for each household, it’s unclear how the UK will solve its “leaky house” problem in the timeline the country has set for itself.

Written by:
Tatiana has written about multiple environmental topics, including heat pumps, energy-efficient household products, and solar panels. She is dedicated to demystifying green tech to make eco-friendly living more accessible.
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