A new report has found that only three European countries are currently on track to meet their Paris agreement targets. Sweden currently tops the list, followed then by Germany and France, but all of the other 27 nations – which account for 60 percent of the continent's emissions – are not doing nearly enough.
When the Paris climate talks took place at the end of 2015, Europe pledged to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Yet the report, compiled by the Carbon Market Watch, has found that many nations are using loopholes to avoid this. They are now calling on these countries to close those loopholes and produce yearly reports on their progress.
Despite often being seen as progressive and a world leader, Europe has been slipping down the table when it comes to climate action. In the last few years, countries traditionally seen as “developing” have been overtaking Europe in terms of investment and commitments. China and India, for example, are now some of the largest investors in renewable energy in the world, with China in particular pulling far ahead of the rest.
This is a trend that has been going on for a few years now. In 2015, developing nations outpaced those in the west in terms of investment for the first time. While the developed world was found to have invested $130 billion in renewables in 2015, down 8 percent on the year previous, those nations in the developing world invested $156 billion, an increase of 19 percent.
And little has changed. China, for example, has announced that it will pump $361 billion into renewable power generation by 2020, an astonishing commitment to push away from their reliance on fossil fuels such as coal – consumption of which in the country has slumped in recent years.
“EU politicians portraying themselves as climate leaders should put their money where their mouth is by closing loopholes in the EU’s key climate law and pushing for more ambition,” Femke de Jong, the EU policy director of Carbon Market Watch, says in a statement. “Only with determined climate action will lawmakers ensure that European citizens can enjoy the significant benefits of a decarbonised society, such as clean air.”
While Europe is seemingly falling behind the pack, recent events in the United States suggest that it will not be alone. By tearing up the Clean Power Plan and removing regulations for fossil fuel extraction, President Trump is trying to stimulate the coal industry while ignoring the consequences this would have for their own commitments to the Paris climate agreement.
Ironically, despite this report showing that the EU isn’t doing too great itself, Europe led in the criticism against Trump when news broke about the rollback of the climate policies put in place by Obama.