Germany – the EU’s anti-example of moving away from fossil fuels

Luc Williams

The costs of climate change

Currently, fossil fuels are the main source of electricity in the world. Environmentalists point out the harmful impact of using these resources on the planet’s climate. Higher CO2 emissions contribute to the intensification of the greenhouse effect. This inevitably leads to an increase in global temperature.

Higher temperatures are associated with a more frequent occurrence of droughts, fires, floods and other violent weather phenomena. The costs involved are estimated at tens of billions of euros each year in Europe alone. Last year, a report was published in the journal Nature which showed that annual cost of changes climate that’s USD 140 billion. That’s $16 million per hour.

Greater dependence on oil or gas is also dangerous because of politics. A good example is the energy crisis in the EU, which was caused by sanctions on Russian energy resources. If Europeans were less dependent on oil and gas, the effects would not be so severe.

How is the EU going in moving away from fossil fuels?

Every year, Eurostat publishes estimates of the use of fossil fuels in the EU. Thanks to this, we can track progress in this area. In 2022, fossil fuels accounted for 70.9% of energy consumption in the EU. As Eurostat points out, the statistics take into account gross available energy (i.e. demand for it). Compared to 2021, we can talk about a slight increase. A year earlier it was 69.9%.

In 2020 it was even less, 69.75%. In hindsight, however, we can talk about a significant decline. In 1990 the percentage was 82.4%.. In 1997 it dropped below 80% for the first time. In 2012, more than 1/4 of energy did not come from fossil fuels. In 2014, the percentage of dependence on fossil fuels dropped to 72.2%, but in 2014-17 we saw an increase to 73.1%. In the years 2017-2020 it decreased again – this time by over 3 percentage points. It then reached its lowest value in history.

EU countries most and least dependent on fossil fuels

Which EU countries are most dependent on fossil fuels? Despite the considerable potential of solar and wind energy, Malta took first place in this ranking. Electricity is produced there using imported crude oil. Fossil fuel dependence in Malta was 96.1% in 2022.

It is worth remembering that by energy we mean not only electricity, but also fuel for cars and industry (e.g. steelworks). Behind Malta was another island country – Cyprus. Its dependency was 89.3% in 2022. The Netherlands closes the podium with a score of 87.6%. Ireland’s dependency was slightly less, 87.4%. She was in fifth place Polandwhere 87.1% of the country’s energy came from fossil fuels. Behind Poland we find countries such as: Greece (83.4%), Germany (80.3%), Italy (79.1%), Luxembourg (77.1%) and Spain (74.1%).


In 15 out of 27 countries, dependency was between 60 and 80%. Only in five countries was it less than 60%. In Denmark this figure was 58.8%. In Latvia it was 53.3%. The dependence of the French economy was estimated at 51.1%. At the EU level, we can talk about two leaders. The first is Finland, where the percentage of energy from fossil fuels was 38.3%.

Sweden has been in first place for many years.In 2022, this economy’s dependence on fossil fuels was only 30.4%. Such a good result is possible thanks to a balanced energy mix, where a lot of space is occupied by renewable energy sources and nuclear energy. The country also boasts a large fleet of electric vehicles.

Which countries are moving away from fossil fuels the fastest?

In 2012-22, the fastest countries to abandon fossil fuels included Denmark (-21.2%), Finland (-23.4%), Estonia (-17.5%), Sweden (-14.9%), Latvia (-14.6%), or Estonia (-13.4%). These countries can certainly be called leaders in the energy transformation. However, there are countries that are doing much worse.

The smallest decline was recorded by France (-0.7%), but due to the low dependence of this economy, it would not be fair to include it in this group. Second place was taken by Germany, where addiction decreased by only 1.4%. Throughout the 21st century, the decline was only 5.3%, which is after Bulgaria (-5.2%), the worst result in the EU. This country can certainly be called an EU laggard in the energy transformation.

The inglorious group of laggards also included countries such as Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, Austria and Poland. In the years 2012-22, addiction decreased in our country by 4.25 percentage points, or 4.7%. Although the pace is clearly better than in the case of the Germans (in the entire 21st century it was -10.6%), our dependence is still higher than that of our western neighbor.

As Eurostat statisticians note, in 2022 there was a decline in energy production from nuclear energy in EU countries. The declines were so deep that even the dynamic growth of renewable energy sources did not allow them to be compensated.


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