In China and India rapid growth in electricity demand mirrored rapid economic growth, while the most readily available source of indigenous fuel was coal. In the EU and U.S., slower demand growth and a gradual move away from coal to nuclear, gas, and renewable sources kept emissions from growing and led to recent declines. In all four countries, despite strong growth in renewable energy, its impact on carbon intensity was only beginning to be felt.

regionEuropean Union

These graphs show the changes in emissions, emissions drivers, and policy in the Power sector in the EU


Emissions Emissions and generation in the EU27

Emissions intensity fell fast enough that emissions declined overall, even though electricity generation grew.


    Emissions Drivers Power sector variables and impact on average emissions factor in the EU27

    During the 1990s, increases in coal and natural gas efficiency and growing nuclear output drove down grid emissions intensity. In the 2000s, the fuel mix shifted away from coal and toward other sources, especially renewable energy. The efficiency of coal plants fell in the 2000s, possibly due to increased sulfur and other pollution controls.


      Policy Renewables targets

      The EU set, and narrowly missed, ambitious renewable energy targets for 2010 for the EU15. For 2020, the EU has set an even more ambitious renewable energy target for the expanded EU27 of 20% of total energy consumption, which translates to 34% of electricity generation from renewable sources.