Rural areas could do more to reduce emissions, report says
A study carried out by global consultancy Ecofys has reported that Europe’s rural areas play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It suggests that a switch from heating oil and coal to renewable energy in such rural areas could reduce carbon emissions in five EU countries by up to the equivalent of 3,500 small towns (35 megatonnes of CO2).
The five EU countries looked at include France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK. The report identifies the different mix of energy usage used in rural areas to that of urban areas. Households in rural areas have more reliance on heating oil and fossil fuels whereas in urban areas rely more on natural gas.
In the UK, greenhouse gas emissions in rural areas amount to 2.3 megatonnes of CO2 through the use of heating oil and coal. A total switch to renewable could reduce emissions equal to that of around 200 small EU towns of around 4,000 households.
Policies need to be targeted to the correct areas. Energy usage of that particular rural area need to be identified for policies to have environmental and economic benefit.
Ann Gardiner, Director Strategy Division at Ecofys says:
“It can be expensive to extend natural gas distribution into remote rural areas. A similar or even larger effect can be achieved by using renewable energy or other lower carbon alternatives that are available and locally generated.”
To date the impact of rural areas on contributing to emissions has not been addressed by policymakers of the EU. This report looks into the patterns that currently exist in such rural areas and the differences that a transition to sustainable energy system could make.