European sustainable development goals

The European Union has agreed on certain sustainable development goals for 2020. How are the member states doing in actually reaching these sustainable development goals? Are they trying there best? Or are certain countries not trying good enough? Let’s have a closer look on how sustainable European countries currently are.

When looking at numbers, and also when driving through these countries, it becomes pretty clear that some countries are doing better than others. Scandinavian countries are doing pretty well in trying to reach the sustainability goals. The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg are doing pretty bad. The good thing about these sustainable development goals is that they’re pretty broad. It forces countries to make changes on multiple levels. Playing with numbers or contracts just won’t do. Countries need to go green, of which an important factor is producing green energy.

2020 renewable energy goals European countries

Windmiles Netherlands

The European Parliament has made an overview of the results of each member state so far. It states how much energy should be generated sustainably by 2020, and how far each country was in 2016. This table can be found here. It appears some countries are not doing pretty well in trying to reach these set goals on renewable energy.  

In 2017, The Netherlands was somewhere below. A total of 6.6 percent of all energy was generated sustainably. The goal that is set for 2020, is 14 percent of all energy in The Netherlands should be generated sustainably. The Netherlands should work harder to be able to reach these goals.

Renewable energy in Sweden

Sweden is doing pretty well. Sweden leads the list of renewable energy goals for 2020. Half of its energy has been generated sustainably, already since 2012. Sweden reached its goals way before the deadline, but is making more effort. Sweden plans to be completely climate neutral by 2045 in terms of renewable energy resources.

Although this effort of Sweden is great news, it should be pretty obvious for countries to try to be more climate neutral. They can become climate neutral by taking the following steps:

  1. Make it illegal not to prioritize climate policies.
  2. Inform households about energy saving measures.
  3. Stimulate companies to invest in green energy.
  4. Involve the entire country in this effort, so household, companies and the government.

It is no surprise Sweden is doing so well in comparison to other European countries. The same counts for its neighbor Norway, which is not a EU-member state and therefor not included in the table. A large part of the renewable energy in Sweden and Norway comes from hydroelectric power stations. Hydroelectric energy is a great way to gain green energy. Sweden has space and possibilities to pursue this kind of green energy generation, whereas other countries do not have the (spatial) possibilities to generate hydroelectric green energy.  

Wind energy France

Renewable energy in France

France should put more effort in reaching the sustainability goals, just like The Netherlands. France should have 23 percent of its energy being generated sustainably by 2020. In 2016, however, it had reached only 16 percent. France has planned to build large offshore wind energy parks in an effort to reach the renewable energy goals.

France is also building infrastructure to transport green energy from other countries (like Portugal) to France. Of course this is a solution. A better way, however, would be if France is generating less energy in a non-sustainable way, and more energy sustainably, so the environment is actually profiting from the efforts of France.

Renewable energy in Germany

On a European level, Germany is doing averagely in reaching the sustainable development goals. Germany is in the middle of switching to sustainable energy resources, based on internal policies. They aim to close nuclear power plants, in order to prevent climate disasters of nuclear explosions and nuclear waste. Germany aims to replace nuclear energy generation with more sustainable resources as wind and solar energy resources. Energy companies in Germany are obliged to produce a certain amount of green energy. If they don’t reach their goals, they are allowed to buy green energy from other producers.

Again: of course this is not a solution that favors our climate. These climate contracts are an example of playing with numbers, without a clear benefit for our climate.

Everyone thinks Germany is doing a great job in the transition towards green energy. This is somewhat true. However, the numbers place Germany around the average in Europe. Germany is a huge energy producer, but also a huge energy consumer. Germany industries, which is a huge sector in German economy, use a lot of energy. This means that Germany has to make a bigger effort to become more green.

However, in 2018 36 percent of all energy in Germany comes from green energy resources. Which is quite a lot already. Green energy in Germany is especially being produced by wind, solar en biomass energy resources.

Are European countries reaching their green energy goals of 2020?

Hydroelectic station Sweden

Generally, European countries are doing well in reaching the sustainable energy goals of 2020. Some Scandinavian countries are doing especially well. These countries produce a great amount of green energy in their hydroelectric energy plants. Hydroelectricity is a great way to produce green energy, but not a reasonable option for all countries. In order to generate hydroelectric energy, a dam needs to be constructed. This construction might have a huge impact on the local ecology surrounding the hydro plant. It may be a great green solution, but simply not possible in every EU member state.  

Many European countries are aiming for wind energy to reach their green energy goals. This means building huge wind energy parks. Wind energy parks need a lot of space. This space is being found in the oceans. Countries like The Netherlands and France are building wind parks in nearby oceans. This wind energy should largely fill the need for green energy.

It is estimated that 25 out of 27 EU member states will reach its sustainable development goals by 2020. Some countries will actually produce more green energy than required in the agreement. Italy and Luxembourg will probably not reach these goals. Luxembourg is only a small country. It is very sad that Italy didn’t try hard enough.

Europe goes green!?

Don’t underestimate the sustainable energy goals of the European Union. Switching to green energy resources not only is better for our climate and decreases the levels of pollution. It also make European countries less dependent on the import of energy resources, like the import of natural gas from Russia. Therefor is also answers to a political need to be less dependent on unstable alliances.

Furthermore, it is important for countries to decrease the dependency on nuclear power plants. The disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima have taught us that nuclear energy might be relatively green (although the nuclear waste definitely isn’t), but it’s production process his highly dangerous.

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