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[BRUSSELS] The European Union is on track to meet its goal for renewables to supply up 20 per cent of its energy by 2020, the EU executive said in a report seen by Reuters, although Britain, Ireland and Luxembourg are lagging behind.
In a stock take on the bloc's climate targets, due to be published on Wednesday, the European Commission saw renewables accounting for 16.4 percent of overall consumption in 2015.
However, it said EU nations will have to redouble efforts to meet steeper targets in coming years and were struggling to reduce emissions in the transport sector.
Fearing President Donald Trump will pull the United States out of a global pact to cut emissions, EU officials hope leadership in renewables will help forge ties with China to keep pushing diplomatic efforts to fight global warming. "Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties ... Europe will move ahead with the clean energy transition, and will look to China and many others players to push forward," Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told Reuters.
Under the 2015 Paris climate deal, the bloc pledged to cut greenhouse gases by 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels. It set a target to increase the share of renewables in energy consumption to at least 27 per cent by 2030 - a goal environmental campaigners have criticised as lacking in ambition.
As the EU seeks to decrease dependence on Russian energy imports, it said higher use of renewables such as wind, biomass, hydro and solar have led to an estimated 16 billion euros (US$17 billion) in savings in 2015 on fossil fuel imports.
As a share of renewables in Europe's power grid, onshore wind energy has grown fastest while solar photovoltaic development has been more uneven, the progress report said.
For green energy in transport, the 2020 target is 10 per cent, while the expected level for 2015 was 6 per cent, due to a late uptake of advanced biofuels.
The EU said France and the Netherlands may also need to ratchet up efforts to meet the 2020 goal.
Government support schemes for renewables vary widely across the bloc, creating regulatory uncertainty that has slowed growth, it said.
Late last year, EU regulators announced reforms to help adapt Europe's grid to the growth of variable wind and solar power by promoting greater cross-border cooperation.