EU countries already hitting some sustainable energy targets for 2030, new study finds


A new study has revealed that some EU states are reaching their sustainable energy targets a decade early.

A number of European countries have met some of their sustainable energy targets for 2030 a decade early, according to a new study, however there are large gaps in progress remaining across the continent.

The study by Polish economists shows that all EU member states made progress in the 2010s towards reaching the UN’s seventh sustainable development goal, which calls for access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030. Several countries had already reached the targets by 2021, the study found.

The country closest to the overall goal was Sweden, followed by Denmark, Estonia and Austria. Malta made the biggest improvement, with notable gains also in Cyprus, Latvia and Belgium. Bulgaria was reported to be furthest from the goal. The study reveals “systematic progress” towards reaching the goal, with the differences between individual EU countries decreasing.

The Polish economists combined seven metrics to get a single measure of the countries’ progress toward their sustainable goal. Several countries had already achieved their targets for 2030 in at least one of the indicators by 2021, the research found.

Spain, Malta and Portugal hit the target for the average amount of energy a person consumes in a household, while Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg hit the target for energy productivity, which compares the size of a country’s economy with the energy it consumes. Sweden, Finland and Latvia scored well on renewable energy, exceeding the target of getting 40% of their final energy consumption from this source.

Interestingly, Belgium fared worse than Poland in the rankings and Denmark was the second-closest to meeting its sustainability goal after Sweden, yet it made the least progress in the 2010s of any EU member state.

In order to reduce its dependence on Russian gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the EU has been speeding up its shift from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy and the results of this new study will provide some encouragement that European countries are making good progress towards the UN sustainable development goals, albeit at an uneven pace and with much more work needing to be done across the continent.

Click here to read the study, Progress on SDG 7 achieved by EU countries in relation to the target year 2030.