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A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) sets out recommendations to help the EU meet its 2030 targets for greenhouse gas emissions, renewables and energy efficiency, as well as its longer-term decarbonisation goals.

The New Energy Policy Review report finds that stronger policies than those currently in place will be needed to deliver on these ambitions and that the energy sector needs to be at the heart of those efforts, as it accounts for 75% of EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more about Europe’s required policy reforms

The report further states that EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were 23% lower than in 1990, meaning the bloc had already met its target of a 20% decline by 2020. However, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU transport sector are still rising, and the use of energy in buildings remains fossil-fuel intensive.

Report findings and recommendations:

  • Strong cooperation will be needed under the framework of the National Energy and Climate Plans
  • EU must build on the bloc’s integrated energy market and cross-border trade and develop stronger carbon price signals
  • EU electricity systems and markets will need to accommodate growing shares of variable renewable energy
  • Risks such as extreme weather and cybersecurity threats are intensifying the challenges for designing and operating electricity systems
  • To phase-out coal, natural gas is becoming essential to ensure the flexibility of electricity systems in Europe
  • The EU cannot afford to reduce its energy diversity and needs to invest in electricity sector resilience
  • Global climate action and global partnerships will be essential to amplify its climate ambitions.

Click here for the full report

In December, the new European Commission led by President Ursula von der Leyen launched the European Green Deal in a bid to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. Soon after the COVID-19 crisis was to test energy sector resilience and policy makers’ commitment to clean energy transitions.

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The EU energy sector has so far stood up well to the pressures it has been under, but the economic downturn continues to weigh on company and government balance sheets. Last month, the European Commission presented a massive recovery plan to counter the economic damage from Covid-19.

“The IEA’s review of EU energy policy comes at a crucial moment, as we debate the investment priorities for our economic recovery and the future EU budget,” said Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy. “The review supports the Commission’s firm commitment to a green recovery, which is at the heart of our proposal for a €750 billion recovery plan. We will continue to work closely with the IEA as we design European policies to transform our energy sector and at the same time provide jobs, growth and better quality of life.”