The Weakness of the EU’s negotiating position on border tax adjustments (BTAs) Part 2

In addition to the amount of coal used by specific EU countries weakening the negotiating position vis a vis coal in terms of border tax adjustments which I described in the blog “Eastern Europe undermines EU call for a border carbon tax for China” it is worth looking at the overall carbon position of the EU in comparison with China and the USA.

I have taken the figures of electricity generation by source 2018, from Total primary energy supply (TPES) by source – World 1990 – 2017 published by EIA.

The table below shows that the EU has lower overall coal usage than either China or the USA, but Germany has a higher coal usage than the US (which some may find surprising). The EU carbon use in Total primary energy supply has a higher carbon use than either China or the USA, and again the corollary of this that both China and the US have a higher percentage of non carbon power than the EU.

Given these figures, the EU’s negotiating position on BTAs is weak. While it can complain about China’s coal consumption against EU consumption, it cannot against the consumption by individual EU countries. What is really surprising given the EC narrative on decarbonisation, is that the EU, in 2018, trails both China and the USA. Some might suggest this is green wash?

My blog has a longer article at

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Table © Chris Lenon

Total primary energy supply (TPES) by source – World 1990 – 2017. EIA. All figures %.