4th Dec 2023

Member states' plans 'not enough' to hit EU climate goals

  • National energy and climate plans are not ambitious enough to meet the EU's overall targets, the coalition of NGOs warn (Photo: Peter Teffer)
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The EU Commission is expected to release its assessment of the EU's climate progress on Tuesday (24 October), as part of its annual State of the Energy Union report.

Ahead of the publication, a coalition of NGOs has warned that member states' draft national climate plans will result in Europe missing its climate targets if "significant shortcomings" remain unresolved.

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EU member states are legally required to collectively achieve the European climate and energy targets.

However, according to the report by Climate Action Network, current plans show many countries are off track to meet their national contributions, to reach 55-percent emissions reduction in the EU by 2030.

"This report starkly highlights the glaring contrast between the urgent demand for accelerated climate action and the sluggish on-ground progress," said CAN Europe's director, Chiara Martinelli.

In some areas, the energy and climate transition is going in the right direction, notably the uptake of rooftop solar power.

But electrification speed overall still needs to more than double in the coming years, according to an June assessment by the European Climate Neutrality Observatory (ECNO), a recently launched independent climate watchdog.

Emission-reduction plans fall far short in many countries, including the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland and Italy.

The EU has updated its overall climate ambition with the introduction of the Fit for 55 package, updating its climate target to 55 percent lower emissions by 2030, up from 40 percent previously. And the 2030 target is legally-binding under the EU's climate law.

National energy and climate plans (NECPs) are being updated for the first time since 2019, but many are behind schedule and only 15 member states have submitted their draft climate plans.

Major member states, including France, Germany and Poland, still need to submit updated plans.

The report also notes that the overall target is too low and that a fair global contribution to limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius implies emissions should be 65-percent lower by 2030, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, according to the report.

One way member states could improve plans is by focusing on energy-saving. But ECNO notes data on home isolation and renovation rate needs to triple for Europe.

Some member states are also delaying their coal phase-out. In Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, coal will continue to play a central role in the energy mix beyond 2030.

An earlier exit is "not sufficiently considered," CAN researchers concluded, which they said is "essential" to keep the EU's overall climate targets within reach.

The report also noted that to align with a 1.5 degrees Celsius pathway, the EU must phase out fossil gas by 2035.

But some countries, including Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Hungary, are expanding fossil-gas consumption. Cyprus, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands over-rely on carbon capture to reduce future emissions.

In most countries, there are no plans for decommissioning or clear exit dates for fossil-gas infrastructure. Only Portugal plans to phase out fossil gas by 2040, which is still too late to meet EU climate targets.

"This assessment exposes the inadequacy of the plans," said CAN EU policy expert Federico Mascolo, adding that "countries still have eight more months to set things right."

EU member states are expected to submit their final NECPs by 30 June 2024, taking into consideration the commission's recommendations.


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