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Decommissioning fossil fuel power plants between now and 2030 essential for Europe’s low carbon future

According to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today 7 October 2016.. " Significant changes will be needed in the Member States’ energy-generating mix if the European Union is to meet its 2050 goal to cut emissions by 80-95 % compared to 1990 levels,  while the European Union has made considerable progress in improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources, a well-planned transition out of carbon-intensive power generation is needed to meet the long-term aim of creating a low-carbon society.

The EEA report ‘Transforming the EU power sector: avoiding a carbon lock-in’ stresses the need for Europe to become more forward-looking when it comes to investing in cleaner energy sources. It calls on the EU to seize the opportunity to 'decarbonise' the energy generating sector, replacing ageing and end-of-life coal-fired plants with renewable energy sources where possible between now and 2030.

The report gives a detailed analysis of the energy generating sector, looking specifically at the technical lifetimes of existing fossil fuel capacity across Europe. It also draws a comparison showing that similar lifetimes in the future would be incompatible with the EU’s climate goals and highlights that meeting these goals can only be realised if fossil fuel capacity decreases progressively within this decade.

Europe's electricity generating sector is at the heart of the EU’s decarbonisation strategy. Power generation remains the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector, being responsible for roughly one third of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and more than half of the verified emissions under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). As such, the sector has a big role to play in meeting commitments on reducing emissions and improving air quality.