Parthenon, Acropolis, Greece- Photo Credit - timeflies 1955 & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the forty-sixth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Greece ranks twenty-second highest in Yale University’s newly published Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2018. This is a slight drop compared with its EPI baseline ranking of 14th place. The baseline ranking is typically calculated by applying the same set of metrics to the country’s historic performance data from 10 years ago.
The area driving the decline in the ranking is ‘climate and energy’. Greece’s current ranking for this sub-category is 133rd versus a baseline of 52nd.’ Climate and energy’ sub-category measures emissions intensity for CO2, methane, N20, black carbon etc.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of Greece’s Paris Agreement targets, the country has agreed to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions by at least 16% of 1990 levels, by 2030. This was agreed as part of the EU’s overall target to reduce emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030.
The EU Climate Leaderboard produced by Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment ranks Greece 14th out of the EU countries for its position towards negotiating the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). Similar to Ireland and Austria, who we wrote about in recent weeks, Greece favoured using 2021 as the starting point for the EU’s emissions reduction targets as opposed to a lower starting point, derived from an average of 2016 – 2018 emissions.
According to an International Energy Agency (IEA) review of Greece’s energy policies in 2017, just under 60% of electricity generated was sourced from combustible fuels (coal 31.6%, natural gas 27.8%). Renewable energy’s share of the mix was 30% (hydro 11%, wind 11%, Solar 8%) with the remaining 10% coming from oil.
If we compare Greece’s 2016 electricity mix with its 2000 mix we see improvements across the board. Combustible fuels portion of the overall figure was 70% in 2000. Coal represented 45% of the mix, no electricity was sourced from solar energy and less than 2% of electricity came from Wind. The country has made a conscious effort to clean up its act and reverse the trend of increasing emissions intensity.
The report also highlighted that Greece has restructured its state-owned energy companies and opened up its electricity and gas markets in line with the third European Union (EU) Energy package. Greece will need to continue its reforms ahead as the country’s economy begins to recover in order to maintain this progress.
According to United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNCCS) GhG statistics for Greece, in 1990 and 2012 its energy sector was its highest emitting industrial sector with 73% and 79% of the overall figure respectively. Analysing the 2012 energy figures further revealed that energy industries were the highest emitter with 63% of the energy sector’s emissions.
When this blog was started last year, something that the highest emitting nations of CO2 had in common was their over-reliance on coal to help fuel their economies. Although the portion of electricity generated from coal in Greece has declined over the past 20 years, the amount of electricity generated from coal has remained static at 4,300 MW.
Greece was one of the countries who felt the impact of the 2008 financial crash the most, and as a consequence, its economy went into a tailspin. More recently the economy is starting to show signs of recovery, with this turnaround will come a higher demand for energy. Greece needs to be careful that it does not fall back on coal during this transition and instead continue with its switch towards renewable energy.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and using it to enchance coal bed methane recovery.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 45 Luxembourg: Green bonds and blue electricity
Week 44 Geothermal: Supercritical CO2 brings us heat from beneath our feet
Week 43 Ireland: Dear Leo, by the time you read this letter we’ll all be gone