At the beginning of 2016, the United Nations came up with an ambitious plan: 17 goals for more sustainability should ensure that the world changes fundamentally by 2030: there should be no more hunger and poverty and everyone should be able to lead the healthiest life possible.

A good seven years have passed since then, more than half of the available time is up - and there is still a lot to do.

In a study, experts have now examined what progress the EU states have made so far with goal number seven: everyone should have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, it says.

Optimists and pessimists would probably evaluate the result differently.

The EU tracks progress towards the energy sustainability goal using seven indicators.

One describes how much energy households, companies and authorities use, another describes the amount of energy imported.

The study authors combined these seven individual factors into a single overall measure.

The measure represents how the individual EU states have progressed; the lower the value, the better.

And it shows how far they are from their goal:

If you focus on the deficits, one thing is clear: more needs to happen in many countries in order to make affordable, clean energy available to everyone there by 2030.

During the pandemic from 2019 to 2020, several countries moved somewhat away from the finish line, including Germany.

According to the study, the higher energy consumption of households could have had a negative impact here.

The work was published in the specialist magazine “Plos One”.

If you focus on what has already happened, you can also see that the states have made progress both individually and collectively, on average in the EU.

According to the study, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia are closest to the target (Bulgaria is furthest away).

The single line in the graph that was still well above the others at the beginning of the 1900s and has now caught up is Malta: the Mediterranean country has improved the most over the years.

For some indicators, individual countries are already achieving their goals for 2030. For example, the goal of covering 40 percent of gross final energy consumption with renewable energies has already been implemented in Sweden, Finland and Latvia.

And the average energy consumption of private households per capita in Spain, Malta and Portugal has been in the green since 2021.

Germany, however, is nothing more than solid mediocrity.

According to the authors of the study, the economically strongest state in the EU is hardly worth mentioning – neither as a positive nor as a negative example.

Everyone can judge for themselves whether this is good or bad news.

If you like, we will inform you once a week about the most important things about the climate crisis - stories, research results and the latest developments on the biggest issue of our time.

To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.

The topics of the week

Iraq's marshlands: drought in paradise 

The biblical Garden of Eden is said to have been located between the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Now the swamps of Mesopotamia are in danger of drying up in the fight for water.

A man fights to save her, risking his life.

Journey to the Encouragers: Germany, you can do better 

Many people lack a vision for restructuring the economy.

It could be so beautiful: the cities are quiet, the air is clean, housing is more affordable, the energy is green.

The SPIEGEL report.

Warm oceans: What's behind the record temperatures in the world's oceans 

The world's oceans are warmer than ever before.

There have been record temperatures for a year now, well above the long-term average.

Climate researchers are puzzling: Is this global warming, or is there something more going on?

CO₂ storage under the North Sea: Habeck's fight against those with concerns 

The Minister of Economics wants to store carbon dioxide under the North Sea.

The usual critics immediately come forward.

The step is overdue.

CO₂ emissions in South America: Forest fires in the Amazon cause the highest emissions in 21 years

Low rainfall, high temperatures: It has been exceptionally dry in the Amazon region since the middle of last year.

This causes thousands of forest fires with serious consequences.

Urban Gardening: Urban-grown fruits and vegetables produce a particularly high amount of CO₂ 

Coffee between the raspberry bush and the head of lettuce?

That's not as great for the climate as expected: According to a study, fruits and vegetables from urban gardens often have a worse CO₂ balance than conventional agriculture.

Stay confident.

Yours, Lukas Kissel,