Carbon emissions covered by the EU emissions trading system (ETS) fell 4.4% in 2014, according to analysis of verified emissions reports by research company Carbon Market Data (CMD).
CDM calculates that ETS carbon emissions in 2014 totalled 1,584 tonnes. It says the 4.4% reduction since 2013 is due to the mild winter in 2014 and the growth in renewables. UK power plants experienced relatively large reductions in emissions in 2014. The Drax power station in Yorkshire, for example, saw its emissions fall 18.33% last year, while emissions from the Ratcliffe on Soar and West Burton stations declined by 16.21% and 15.42% respectively.
Meanwhile, separate analysis by the NGO Sandbag found that greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from installations covered by the ETS fell 4.9% last year, meaning that the bloc has achieved its 2020 target six years ahead of schedule.
It said warmer winter temperatures helped drive total emissions down to 1,814 million tonnes in 2014 and below the 1,816 million tonne target for the year. Power and heat emissions fell by 7.8% year-on-year and on current trends ETS emissions are expected to continue falling in the coming years.
The fall in emissions is partly reflected in the reduction in EU electricity consumption, which fell by 2.8%. The analysts point out that, although the reduction was in part because of the warmer weather, temperature-adjusted data suggest that energy-efficiency measures and an increase in renewables capacity are also having a major effect on emissions reduction. The fall in emissions in 2014 comes despite a rise in GDP of 1.3% over the same period.
Sandbag forecasts that electricity consumption across the EU will fall 10% between 2010 and 2020. “Even as the EU economy recovers greenhouse gases are falling fast. Policymakers can therefore safely adopt more ambitious climate policies without fear of triggering high carbon prices. In the months ahead, lawmakers must reach an agreement to reform the EU’s flagship climate policy – the ETS – or see it slide into ever increasing irrelevance,” said Damien Morris, head of policy at Sandbag.
The organisation points out that if emission reductions continue to fall at the current pace, the cap and trade allowances market could remain oversupplied by around 2 billion allowances almost indefinitely, even under the most ambitious options being discussed to reform the system. Carbon prices would remain low and the ETS would remain only a marginal driver of EU emissions reductions, warns Sandbag.