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LONDON: Latest data from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), enabling companies to set GHG emissions reduction targets, says while 18 European power companies have approved science-based targets, the US only has one – NRG Energy.

The Houston, TX-based company has an approved 1.5°C science-based target and is committed to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050 from a 2014 base year. This means it will cut at least 32 million tonnes of emissions by 2025.

Other major US utilities, including Duke Energy, Dominion and Southern Company, have defined their own 2050 net-zero targets resulting in only a 1-2 percent reduction per year.

By contrast, European power companies Enel, EDP, Iberdrola, Siemens Renewable Energy, Orsted and Verbund have approved 1.5°C targets and are reducing emissions at an average rate of 59 percent over 10 years. Combined, these companies will cut more than 136 million tonnes by 2030.

They are included in a group that has joined the SBTi’s ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ target to reduce total Scope 1 and 2 emissions of 303.5 million tonnes by 2030, more than the GHG emitted by Spain last year (272 million tonnes).

While the US is committed to cut emissions 50-52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, much depends on the Biden Administration enacting an ambitious Clean Energy Standard. If passed into law, the goal is to generate 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035, up from 12 percent in last year.

“The science is clear - we must halve global emissions by 2030 and the electricity sector must lead the way,” said SBTi managing director Alberto Carrillo Pineda. “But currently, the European electricity sector is powering ahead of North America. Europe has demonstrated the possibilities, and the US must now deliver an energy revolution that rapidly phases-out coal and gas while turbo-charging the expansion of renewable energy.”

The SBTi is inviting all remaining major European utilities, including Vattenfall and ENBW, to make 1.5°C a goal.
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