Credit: Jon Tyson / Unsplash

EU governments’ climate plans in the spotlight

The impact of climate change is already affecting people, the planet and livelihoods everywhere. And public demand for climate action has never been so loud and clear, with movements around the world demanding political leaders reduce carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy and transition rapidly to a low-emissions economy.

Now a group of campaign groups, local authorities and researchers have launched a project that aims to find out how climate-friendly five EU countries’ plans to decarbonise the agriculture, buildings and transport sectors really are.

EU governments had until the end of 2018 to submit a 10-year plan to the European Commission on how they will meet their energy and climate commitments. These so-called ‘National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs)’ are meant to contain the targets, policies and measures governments will put in place to support the shift to a low carbon and resilient economy – in line with commitments they made under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

So far 22 draft NECPs have been submitted to the European Commission. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Spain missed the deadline.

The ‘PlanUp’ project will dive into the data in the NECPs with the aim of giving people across Europe the chance to understand their government’s energy and climate plans through an open-source online platform, with a particular focus on Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania and Hungary.

Speaking on behalf of PlanUp, Agnese Ruggiero from NGO Carbon Market Watch, said:

The development of meaningful and ambitious NECPs is of paramount importance to fulfill Europe’s 2050 climate and energy commitment. In name, this project impresses upon all EU member states to scale up their energy and climate plans through increased public participation.”

The Paris climate agreement was brokered in 2015 and governments made the landmark commitment to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and to aim to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Roland JoebstlSenior Policy Officer for Energy and Climate at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

“National energy and climate plans are essentially where the goodwill of the Paris agreement should be translated into solid commitments on how countries will make climate action a reality. The global cost of weather and climate-related disasters that hit the globe in 2017 was 290 billion euro. Our best chance of avoiding climate breakdown and protecting life on Earth is to urgently move to a net-zero emissions economy. We must slash the waste of energy, move to renewables and achieve a circular economy as part of making our society climate resilient.”

In October 2018, alarming findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that climate change’s impact is more severe than was previously thought. The IPCC scientists said that “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are essential to keep the world under 1.5 degrees of global warming.

At climate talks in Poland in December, the EU’s representative at the talks joined 26 governments from around the world in making a commitment to increase their climate targets by 2020.