Finally, some good news!
Back in 2009, the European Union adopted three environmental goals to hit by the end of 2020 — and it's on track to complete two of them.
The EU planned to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, reach a 20 percent reliance on renewable energy sources, and improve energy efficiency by 20 percent as compared to 1990 levels, all by the end of December. Now, Agence France-Presse reports that the first two are on track, putting the EU in a good position to pursue even more ambitious environmental goals for the future.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) reported that it expects to meet the first two goals before the end of the year, but the improvements to energy efficiency will fall short of 20 percent. The first two goals were looking shaky as well, but a significant improvement in 2019 — and the reduced emissions of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 — got the EU back on track.
"There are strong indications that the economic downturn in 2020 has sharply reduced overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, in particular in the transport sector," an EEA spokesperson told AFP.
Moving forward, the EU hopes to reach a 55 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by the year 2030 and full carbon neutrality by 2050. But doing so will be difficult, as some individual member nations still haven't hit their 2020 goals and the drop in emissions from the pandemic will likely be temporary.
Still, the EEA told AFP that recent progress shows "more ambitious long-term efforts are reachable," even if the next goals will "demand sustained and long-term efforts."
READ MORE: EU set to meet two of its three 2020 climate goals [Agence France-Presse]
More on climate change: UN: Despite the Pandemic, Greenhouse Gases Are at an All-Time High