The proliferation of renewable energy in the European Union in 2017 did not stop the majority of member states from increasing their carbon footprint.
The European Union had a 25 percent growth in wind power and a six percent increase in solar, however, carbon emissions rose by 1.8 percent in 2017, according to a report from Greentech Media. Malta experienced the highest increase, with a 12.8 percent rise. Estonia and Bulgaria came next, with an 11.3 and 8.3 percent increase, respectively.
Altogether, 20 EU member countries saw their carbon dioxide rates go up, while seven were able to cut their rates.
The numbers indicate that, despite massive investments into the renewable energy sector, reducing emissions is a tough task while undergoing job and population growth. Wind and solar have not been able to keep pace with the higher number of electricity consumers. Market expansion is making it all the more difficult for EU leaders who plan to slash carbon to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. (RELATED: Will More States Mandate Solar?)
“This worrying rise in emissions shows that while renewables continue to grow, the most polluting energy sources are not being eliminated quickly enough,” said Molly Walsh, a renewables campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. The numbers reveal the EU Emissions Trading System — the largest greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme around the world — is not doing a satisfactory job, Walsh stated, according to Greentech Media.
The emissions increase is also surprising considering the amount of money European leaders have spent in recent years to prop up the renewable energy sector and fight climate change.
Germany has paid a fortune to become an international leader in wind energy, but that hasn’t stopped the country from remaining Europe’s largest polluter. Germany has burned an estimated 189 billion euros — around $222 billion — on subsidies for renewable energy since 2000. Emissions have mostly remained at 2009 levels, despite the big financial commitment. The country managed a negligible 0.2 percent improvement from their 2016 carbon dioxide levels.
France established strong renewable energy targets. However, the country witnessed a 3.2 percent carbon emissions rise in 2017. Italy experienced the same rate increase. Spain enjoys robust wind, solar and hydro reserves, yet the country still saw its emissions rise by 7.4 percent, accounting for a 7.7 percent share of Europe’s total output in 2017.
The situation in Europe will likely get worse as the population continues to climb and a slate of nuclear plants begin to phase out.
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