Greece is the European Union (EU) member country with the most significant annual drop in carbon emissions according to Eurostat data released on Friday.
Eurostat’s report shows that carbon emissions fell in all EU countries, but Greece had the largest decrease of all, with a decrease of 18.7% in their emissions last year.
EU emissions decrease by 10% overall
The “European Green Deal” is an EU-wide policy whose aim is to get the entirety of Europe to be climate neutral by 2050. The more immediate goal of the European Green Deal is to decrease emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to levels recorded in 1990.
As is clear from the chart above, EU member nations are already on the path to success when it comes to cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions. All EU countries reduced their fossil fuel (hard coal, lignite, shale oil and oil sands, oil and oil products and natural gas) consumption during the coronavirus pandemic during 2020.
The EU as a whole reduced carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion by 10% compared with 2019.
Greece, which had the largest reduction in carbon emissions, was closely followed by Estonia, which decreased its emissions by 18.1%.
However, this does not coincide with the countries that had the lowest emissions overall in the year. The nations responsible for the lowest percentage of emissions in the EU were the small island nations of Malta at 0.1%, and Cyprus in second place, at 0.2%.
Germany was responsible for the highest percentage of emissions, producing 25% of carbon greenhouse gas in 2020.
Greece’s decrease in carbon emissions
Greece’s impressive feat is part of a larger commitment to sustainability by the nation.
Greece pledged to eliminate coal three years earlier than planned, by 2025, at the Leaders Summit on Climate. The country further committed to becoming a clean energy leader on Earth Day, showing promise of a greener future with greater economic efficiency.
The US has also pledged to take a greater part in lessening their greenhouse gas emission, with a White House statement issued recently saying “US President Joe Biden invited 40 countries to attend the virtual, live-streamed summit after taking action to return the United States to the Paris Agreement his first day in office. The Leaders Summit on Climate is a precursor to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.”
Greece has also pledged to shut down all lignite-fired power plants within its territory by 2028, and has been applauded for its efforts by other nations.
US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt remarked on Earth Day that the U.S. is “enthusiastic to support Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ ambitious climate change agenda, in particular his commitment to the phase-out of all coal-fired power by 2028, if not before.
“This is exactly the kind of ambitious goal-setting that the U.S. government’s Climate Envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, is calling on all of us to commit to. It’s the only way we’re going to stop the problem of climate change and build the cleaner future that we and future generations deserve,” Pyatt said.
“I’m very excited about the commitment that President Biden’s administration has made to working with the rest of the international community, and especially proud to be working on these issues here in Greece, where we have such strong and ambitious partners,” the American diplomat added.
It is clear that Greece’s substantial decrease in carbon emissions for the year 2020 was no coincidence, but rather is part of its long term plan to slow down climate change.