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Reproduced from an Ember report; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new analysis finds that European Union electricity use is almost back to its pre-pandemic levels, but the bloc's use of fossil fuels to generate power has not returned nearly as much.

The big picture: The data, via the environmental think tank Ember, reveal a mixed verdict of sorts for the EU's efforts to decarbonize.

  • It shows renewables' ongoing rise and finds that it's now far more expensive to generate power from existing coal and gas plants than new wind and solar projects.
  • But the group also notes that the trajectory of power sector emissions is inconsistent with the EU's economy-wide climate law, which seeks to cut greenhouse gases 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The bottom line: "Fossil fuels are in rapid decline as Europe cleans up its power sector. But progress is nowhere near fast enough to meet the EU's own emissions target, let alone reach 100% clean electricity by 2035," Ember analyst Charles Moore said in a statement.

Go deeper

COP26 takes aim at fossil fuels — with caveats

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Horst Galuschka/picture alliance via Getty Images

A slew of big announcements at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, signals a growing appetite to start weaning the global economy off fossil fuels, but several key countries aren't at the table.

Driving the news: One agreement is unprecedented, but not binding, and involves 25 countries. The effort aims to end public financing of overseas oil, gas and coal projects by the end of 2022.

Updated Nov 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The major climate pledges made at COP26 so far

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary-General António Guterres at COP26 on Nov. 1. Photo: Alastair Grant /Getty Images

A global effort to halt and reverse deforestation. A 100+ country voluntary pact to slash methane emissions. And a commitment from India to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2070. The COP26 pledges, both public and private, have started to roll in as world leaders, diplomats and others meet in Glasgow, Scotland, to address climate change.

Why it matters: The UN summit is seen as crucial — "the last, best hope for securing the global commitments needed to get countries on track to avoid potentially catastrophic levels of climate change during the next several decades," reports Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Nov 4, 2021 - World

Top EU negotiator expects tensions with China as COP26 talks heat up

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Mario De Fina/Getty Images

GLASGOW, Scotland The EU's top climate negotiator tells Axios he's expecting friction with China as negotiations heat up at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

What they're saying: Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua fired a shot across the bow Tuesday by warning that countries pushing to amend the Paris Accord's temperature target risked "destroying consensus" and unraveling the talks.

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