The European Commission has published an assessment of EU member states’ draft national energy and climate plans and issued recommendations to help adopt more ambitious targets in line with the EU’s 2030 plans. In the document, the European Commission calls on member states to step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to develop clearer plans on how to adapt to climate change. The European Commission is also encouraging member states to better prepare for greater use of renewable energy sources and strengthen energy efficiency measures.
National energy and climate plans
National energy and climate plans are indispensable tools that indicate what specific policies and measures will be implemented by member states to meet the 2030 energy and climate targets, enable the transition to clean energy and guarantee security of supply and investment for European industry.
National energy and climate plans for 2021-2030 are required under the 2018 EU Energy Union Governance Regulation. The first of these were submitted in 2019, and were followed by individual assessments: the EU’s and each national plan’s. Member states were required to submit draft updates to the plans by the end of June 2023, which reflect progress, new challenges and revised frameworks under the European Climate Law, the “Ready for 55” package and the REPowerEU plan, as well as the Instrument for Reconstruction and Increasing Resilience.
In the updated energy and climate plans, member states were required to identify national policies for each of the intended targets and to achieve them. The updated plans, according to the European Commission, should be based on a sound analysis that includes an assessment of the expected impact of the proposed policies and the identification of gaps or investment needs.
National energy and climate plans should ensure comparability and policy coherence and reflect the five dimensions of the energy union: decarbonization of the economy, energy efficiency, a fully integrated internal energy market, energy security, solidarity and trust, and research, innovation and competitiveness.
The assessment prepared by the European Commission is based on 21 national energy and climate plans that were submitted by the indicated deadline and supplemented with available data. According to information posted on the European Commission’s website, three member states submitted their projects too late for individual evaluation to be carried out now, and another three, including Poland, still have not provided documents.
Key findings and recommendations
The European Commission’s assessment shows that member states have taken steps in the right direction, but the draft plans still indicate a gap in the implementation of the revised energy and climate targets under the “Ready for 55” package and the “REPower EU” plan. This means that the existing and planned measures in the draft national energy and climate plans are not sufficient to achieve the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets.
Key findings of the evaluation:
- At this stage, the draft national energy and climate plans are not sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030; measures currently being taken would lead to a 51 percent reduction.
- Further targets are needed to close the gap of 6.2 percentage points in the sectors covered by the joint reduction effort compared to the 40 percent target.
- The LULUCF target of -310MtCO2-equivalent is about 40-50 percent short of the target set by the LULUCF regulation, which shows that increasingCO2 absorption is essential.
- Current projects would lead to a share of renewables in the energy mix of 38.6-39.3 percent. By 2030. (I), compared to a target of 42.5 percent.
- Current projects would lead to energy efficiency improvements of 5.8 percent. (I), compared to a target of 11.7 percent.
The European Commission also stressed the importance and urgency of phasing out fossil fuels, especially solid ones, from energy production. Maintaining fossil fuel subsidies in all member states has been identified as an obstacle to the EU’s move toward climate neutrality. In the European Commission’s view, subsidies that do not address energy poverty or promote a just transition should be phased out as soon as possible, and should be directed toward innovation and supporting vulnerable groups in the transition process.
The European Commission, in a prepared document, also encourages member states to pay more attention to energy security in their final national energy and climate plans, and stresses the need to urgently increase the competitiveness of European clean energy value chains. It also recommends that member states better plan ways to diversify their energy supplies in a competitive manner.
National energy and climate plans – deadlines
All member states must submit their final updated national energy and climate plans by June 30, 2024. They should take into account the recommendations of the European Commission and be detailed enough to provide a solid basis for accelerating the implementation of climate action in the coming years.
Member states that have not yet submitted drafts of the updated energy and climate plans (Austria, Bulgaria and Poland) should, as recommended by the European Commission, submit them for opinion as soon as possible. The Belgian, Irish and Latvian projects, submitted late, will be evaluated by the European Commission in early 2024.