Seven countries with the dirtiest electricity in 2030 will undermine EU climate goals

Nov 9, 2020


In the next decade renewables are set to double and coal power to halve – but seven countries will cause the EU to miss its emissions targets.

Analysis by climate think tank Ember reveals the seven countries that are blocking Europe’s electricity transition. Together they will be responsible for 80% of the EU’s power sector emissions by 2030 due to their reliance on coal and fossil gas and insufficient deployment of zero-carbon electricity. As a result, the EU is not on track to deliver the Commission’s recommended 55% reduction in total emissions by 2030, let alone the EU Parliament’s target of 60%. 

The seven dirtiest electricity grids in 2030*

Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Italy 


[Download graphic]

The analysis by Ember reviewed every EU country’s National Energy and Climate Plan, which sets out how each country expects to generate its electricity by 2030 as the EU moves towards net zero emissions by 2050.

The analysis reveals that renewables will double in the next decade to deliver 60% of EU electricity demand in 2030, driven largely by growth in wind and solar. Across the EU, 40% of electricity will be generated by wind and solar, with leading countries Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain targeting more than 60%. 

Despite this progress, fossil fuels are still expected to generate 25% of EU electricity by 2030 and Europe is not on track for a Paris-aligned coal phase-out by 2030. Coal generation is expected to fall by just 53% by 2030 compared to 2018, with nearly all (~90%) of coal generation by 2030 occurring in Poland, Germany and Czechia. Fossil gas generation sees even less progress, with little change in the next decade, as countries including Italy, Germany and Belgium plan an increasing role for fossil gas.

The 2020s are a key decade for action on climate change. Clean electricity is essential for the transition to a sustainable economy. Although our analysis finds that many EU countries already have ambitious plans to decarbonise their electricity systems, we also identified seven key countries that are blocking overall progress in the EU. Unless they change course, reaching a 55% emissions reduction will be extremely challenging – let alone 60%.

Charles Moore

European Programme Lead, Ember


Media enquiries: Hannah Broadbent, Head of Communications, Ember,

Media Pack (Dropbox): graphics, report, country factsheets

*The seven dirtiest electricity grids in 2030, among the top EU electricity consumers. This chart displays the 19 EU countries that are the largest electricity consumers and account for more than 97% of EU electricity consumption.

About this report: In this report, Ember uses the National Energy & Climate Plans (NECPs) of every EU country to assess the planned progress in the power sector over the coming decade. The report compares each EU country on a wide range of power sector metrics and identifies which countries are the main barriers to reducing emissions from electricity generation in the EU. 

About Ember: Ember is an independent, not-for-profit energy think tank that produces cutting-edge research and high impact policies that aim to accelerate the global electricity transition from coal to clean. @EmberClimate

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