For the first time last year, Europeans obtained more of their energy from renewable sources than from fossil fuels.
According to an annual report by Ember and Agora Energiewende, which has been monitoring the EU power sector since 2015, 38% of electricity was supplied by renewables last year, compared to 37% supplied by fossil fuels, reports the CNN.
The change comes as other factors in the European Union, such as wind and solar power, have grown. Both sources have almost doubled since 2015 and accounted for one-fifth of the generation of electricity in EU countries as of last year, the study found.
It is also the reason why coal power declined 20% last year, accounting for just 13% of Europe's electricity produced.
"Rapid growth in wind and solar has forced coal into decline, but this is just the beginning," said Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst for Ember and lead author on the report, in a statement. "Europe is relying on wind and solar to ensure not only coal is phased out by 2030, but also to phase out gas generation, replace closing nuclear power plants, and to meet rising electricity demand from electric cars, heat pumps and electrolysers."
Last year's Covid-19 lockdown measures resulted in less demand for electricity across the globe. European demand decreased by 4% in 2020, according to the report, which said Covid trends had no effect on the growth of renewable energy sources. Since 2015, Europe's electricity emissions recorded a historic decline, becoming 29% cleaner, the report noted.
The milestone follows commitments from EU leaders last month to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. In the United States, renewable energy overtook coal consumption in recent years. Last May, renewable energy sources were consumed more than coal for the first time since 1885.
"Post-pandemic economic recovery must not slow down climate action," said Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, in a statement. "We therefore need strong climate policy -- such as in the Green Deal -- to ensure steady progress."