Uneven progress towards clean electricity
Coal is in decline across much of Europe, with 58% of electricity now coming from clean power, including 23% from nuclear, 16% from hydro, and 14% from fast growing wind and solar.
Europe is responsible for 11% of global power sector emissions, down from 23% two decades ago, with the largest polluters Russia, Germany, Poland, Italy and the UK responsible for two thirds of that.
Europe has made uneven progress decarbonising electricity recently. Electricity generated from coal has fallen over a third since 2015, mostly replaced by wind and solar. However, this transition has been primarily driven by Western Europe, with progress in Eastern and South Eastern Europe generally much more limited so far. Overall, fossil fuels still account for 42% of electricity production.
Fossil gas made up 25% of the continent’s electricity production in 2021. However, some governments have now signalled a rapid move away from gas after the global gas price crisis in late 2021 was followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in spring 2022.
Europe’s electricity transition is not on track to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. Clean power capacity deployment remains too slow across the continent, and in the EU’s case planned expansion is not yet sufficient for the bloc’s own climate targets. Outside the EU, the outlook is more challenging with Turkey, Russia and the Western Balkans still planning to build new coal plants. However, a number of Europe’s major economies are starting to show the way forward, with both the UK and Germany pledging to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035.
Last updated: March 2022