Europe’s future will need better climate plans – report

BRUSSELS, 8 May 2019. A new analysis of five draft EU energy and climate plans reveals a lack of climate commitment by governments in terms of ambition, concrete sectoral measures and public participation.  

Tomorrow, EU leaders are meeting in Sibiu, Romania to discuss the Future of Europe, amid youth climate protests across Europe, rising impacts of global warming, and EU citizens demanding decisive climate action.

On this occasion, the PlanUp project launches analyses entitled Fit to succeed? of the draft national energy and climate plans (NECPs) of five EU countries – Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland and Romania. In the NECPs, governments are expected to outline objectives, policies, targets, and measures for decarbonising European economies in order to tackle the climate crisis. These plans are concrete tools for countries to fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement and put the EU on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

Looking specifically at the transport, agricultural and buildings sectors, as well as how well national governments have included the public into the decision-making, the analyses found a serious lack of commitment on behalf of governments when it comes to ambition and concrete climate measures. It further established that most of the countries have failed to follow basic principles of transparency and public participation when preparing the draft plans.

Commenting on behalf of PlanUp, Agnese Ruggiero, Policy Officer at Carbon Market Watch said:

“The general lack of ambition of these plans is unacceptable at a time when we are already feeling the impacts of climate change and people are on the streets demanding strong action to stop it. The draft plans are only a start so now is not the time for foot-dragging. It is paramount that the national governments step up and deliver much stronger final plans at the end of this year.” 

Out of the five countries, Spain stands out and has taken steps in the right direction to help the country and the EU as a whole to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets. The plan needs to be confirmed and strengthened in the process of forming a new government, following elections last month.

Míriam Zaitegui, Climate Change Policy Officer at ECODES commented:

“While the Spanish draft plan lacks clarity in certain technical aspects such as targets for zero-emission vehicles, it stands out for its ambition and a clear commitment to climate action. We expect President Sanchez to honour his promise to form an “ecological government” and ensure that the final plan goes even further to help Spain achieve its climate goals under the Paris Agreement.”

Long-term climate strategies needed for the transport sector

Regardless of the rising trend of transport emissions across the five countries, most draft plans lack a clear emissions reduction target and concrete measures, such as increasing the share of electric vehicles, to address the issue.

Cristina Mestre, Policy Officer at Transport & Environment commented:

“In order to be able to track progress in one of the heaviest emitting sectors in Europe, governments should set clear decarbonisation targets and include longer-term measures for transport. Furthermore, steps to decarbonise sectors such as shipping and aviation should be considered, as they are currently largely missing from the plans.”

Furthermore, some of the governments seem to plan to rely heavily on food-crop based or “1st generation” biofuels to decarbonise the transport sector, which is not in line with European legislation and could lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture – a major omission

Overall, all five countries fail to effectively address the agricultural sector’s climate impact on the one hand and its emissions reduction potential on the other hand. Some of them even expect agricultural emissions to increase, such as Hungary that foresees an 18% growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the sector by 2030.

Bérénice Dupeux, Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau said:

“Last year’s heatwave and the ensued draught provided grim proof that farmers are among the first ones to suffer from the climate crisis. Currently part of the problem as a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the agricultural sector can also play an important role in solving it. EU governments must commit the sector to curb significantly its emissions, and introduce specific measures so that farmers can be part of the solution.” 

Tapping into the climate potential of buildings

The buildings sector is a major driver for energy demand and emissions, but at the same time, with the right incentives, has a great potential to achieve deep emission reductions.  However, the draft energy and climate plans lack clear pathways for phasing out fossil fuels, as well as binding measures and clear responsibilities for achieving a highly energy-efficient and decarbonised building stock.

Roland Joebstl, Senior Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau commented:

“Increasing energy efficiency of our homes, schools and workplaces is essential to improve the quality of life of European citizens and transform our society into a net-zero carbon economy. In the final plans, national governments need to allocate money and responsibility to fix our leaky buildings and make sure we get rid of coal, oil and gas.”

Transparency and public participation need improvement

Mostly, the draft plans were prepared without a broad, inclusive dialogue that would have allowed all interested stakeholders to provide input.

David Donnerer, Policy and Communication Officer at Energy Cities said:

“A transparent and open decision-making process involving all stakeholders, in particular cities as the closest level of government to the citizens, is key to gather broad support for energy and climate policies. The mobilisation of all actors is needed to deliver a Paris-proof energy transition.”

The analyses include detailed recommendations for each of the covered areas for the governments to improve their draft plans.

European Commission will provide feedback and recommendations on the draft plans in June, after which the countries have until the end of the year to publish their final energy and climate plans.

-ENDS-

Contacts:

Agnese Ruggiero – Policy Officer
agnese.ruggiero@carbonmarketwatch.org
Tel: +32 497 81 86 24

Kaisa Amaral – Communication Director
kaisa.amaral@carbonmarketwatch.org
Tel: +32 485 07 68 90

Notes to editors:

The individual assessments are available through the following links: Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Romania.

Key findings from the assessments include:

  • The Spanish draft energy and climate plan stands out as it sets a higher level of ambition than what is required at the EU level e.g. for renewable energy and the transport sector. It also calculates the impact on jobs of the planned policies, foreseeing e.g. between 102,000 to 182,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector and between 42,000 to 80,000 jobs/year as a result of investments in energy savings and energy efficiency.
  • The Italian government settles for a minimum ambition level across the draft plan, although the country would have the potential to go far beyond when it comes to for example deploying renewable energy sources.
  • The coal-reliant Poland fails to set out steps to move away from fossil fuels, foreseeing instead to reach its 2030 climate targets by improving the efficiency of its existing power plants and by building a new nuclear power plant.
  • The draft plans of Hungary and Romania are for the most part incomplete, lacking information such as detailed measures, investment needs and information on how the planned policies will be implemented. Romania’s draft plan, however,  includes a very good strategy to reduce energy poverty that, if well implemented, will yield positive results.
  • All five countries need to improve the development process of the climate plan, by involving all relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations and local and regional authorities.

Useful links:

LIFE PlanUp website
PressKit PlanUp
Main findings in good practice governance
Guide on EU Climate & Sectoral Decarbonisation Policies

About LIFE PlanUp:

LIFE PlanUp supports the shift to a low-carbon and resilient economy through the development and implementation of effective and ambitious national 2030 energy and climate plans (NECPs) in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Spain and Italy. A key objective of the PlanUp project is to strengthen the climate and energy governance processes in these countries by increasing the involvement of local and regional authorities (LRAs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the development and implementation of the NECPs.

Project partners: Carbon Market Watch, Energy Cities, Transport & Environment, Climact, European Environmental Bureau.

National Affiliates: Polish Green Network (Poland), ISD Fundatia (Poland), Clean Air Action Group (Hungary), ADEPT (Romania), GEC Bucovina (Romania), Legambiente (Italy), Ecodes (Spain).

More information on LIFE PlanUp website

This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)