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‘EU post-COVID emissions rise ends on cleaner, saved energy’

A view shows solar panels installed in the "eco-neighborhood" Clichy-Batignolles, one of several new ecological housing developments with low energy use and carbon emissions, in Paris, France, Oct 22, 2015. (BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS)

Gas emissions from the European Union's energy sector have ended more than a year of post-pandemic rises thanks to cleaner power supplies and energy-saving efforts, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said on Thursday.

CREA lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta said that the increase in power-sector emissions up to August cannot be attributed to policies favoring coal, as there was no shift from gas to coal in the fuel mix for thermal power generation in 2022

The independent organization, which studies trends, causes and health impacts of air pollution, said in a report that carbon-dioxide emissions fell 5% in the past three months from the same period last year, with an 8% fall in October, after rising steadily since March 2021.

"The post-COVID rebound in the EU's fossil fuel use and emissions has come to an end in the past few months, due to the growth in clean energy supply led by solar power, and energy saving measures precipitated by the fossil fuel supply crunch," said CREA lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta.

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"Clean energy investments and policies have expanded dramatically, which will lead to a sustained and accelerated fall in emissions in the next years."

Europe's emissions had risen from March 2021 as economies recovered from pandemic, the report said, while an underperformance of nuclear and hydropower, together with electricity demand during heat waves in the summer, drove up demand for fossil fuel power.

Hydropower generation is now closer to historical averages, and nuclear underperformance should recover, easing Europe's reliance on pollutants, it said.

France's EDF expects to get most of its nuclear fleet back from maintenance in early 2023 while Germany has extended the operation of its three remaining reactors to April 2023.

READ MORE: EU parliament backs labeling gas, nuclear investments green

Myllyvirta said that the increase in power-sector emissions up to August cannot be attributed to policies favoring coal, as there was no shift from gas to coal in the fuel mix for thermal power generation in 2022.

World leaders are expected to discuss increasing clean energy production facilities in emerging countries during the annual United Nations climate summit in Egypt from Sunday.