EU Climate Policy


2020 Climate and Energy Package

In 2008, the EU adopted a set of regulatory measures known as the Climate and Energy Package and containing a revised EU Emissions Trading Directive, a Decision on effort sharing in non-ETS sectors, a directive on the promotion of renewable energy, a directive on carbon capture and storage , together with  an accompanying impact assessment and revised state aid guidelines.

The objectives of the Climate and Energy Package were to achieve, by 2020, an unconditional reduction of GHG emissions across the EU by 20% against 1990 levels, with an inbuilt option of increasing that target to 30%, if other big emitters signed up to comparable efforts under a global agreement (1), combined with an increase of the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20%, and an increase in energy efficiency by 20%.

The 2008 legislation was built on the principles of cost-effectiveness and fair distribution. In order to promote cost-effectiveness of the proposed measures, the EU introduced the use of market based instruments (such as emissions trading, transferable guarantees of origin for renewables) and flexibility for Member States in how to achieve their non-ETS targets, while adhering to the principle of fair distribution of efforts according to GDP per capita of Member States. While the ETS sectors were given an EU-level cap in order to promote competitiveness and create a level playing field for industry across the EU, national targets were agreed by Member States in sectors outside the EU ETS. The Member States adopted also differentiated national renewable energy targets, setting out the level of the use of renewable energy in the final energy consumption to be achieved by 2020.

The EU is on track to achieve its 2020 targets.

EU emissions continue to follow the downward trend seen since 2004. While EU GDP grew by 45% between 1990 and 2011, total emissions from the 28 member states, including emissions from international aviation, were 16.9% below 1990 levels in 2011 and an estimated 18% below 1990 in 2012.

The EU’s unilateral commitment to cut emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 includes emissions from international aviation. With the help of the 2009 ‘climate and energy package’ of legislation, the Union is well on track to achieve its 2020 target. Member states’ latest projections show that total emissions in 2020, including international aviation, will be 21% below the 1990 level.

(1) At that time expected to materialise in 2009.

2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies

On January 24, 2014, following a public consultation launched with a Communication “A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies” which was published in March 2013, the European Commission unveiled its long awaited proposal for the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy.  The current Climate and Energy Package, adopted by the EU in 2008, is implemented until 2020. 

The EU as a block is on track to meet, and even exceed its voluntary target of 20 % reduction below 1990 emissions levels. However, continuation of present policies would not be sufficient for the EU to achieve its long-term objective of reducing GHG emissions by 2050 by 80 – 95% compared to 1990 levels. The continuation of current policies would result in reductions of -32% against 1990 levels in 2030, with 24% increase of renewable energy share in the final energy consumption, and primary energy savings of 21 %.

In order to address the insufficiency of continuing current measures in the long term, the Commission put forward its new proposal with a view to outline the pathway towards the EU’s low carbon development in the medium term, until 2030, in order to provide much needed certainty for the EU business community, and to signal the EU’s continued commitment to climate change mitigation. The proposed 2030 GHG reduction target amounts to 40 % below 1990 levels, with a view to ensure that by 2050 the EU is able to reduce its emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels. The 2030 target would be shared between ETS and non-ETS sectors, with ETS sectors responsible for reductions of – 43% compared to 2005 levels, and non-ETS sectors across the EU achieving a reduction of 30% compared to 2005 levels. The latter target will be shared equitably among the EU Member States. The GHG reduction goals will be supported by the measures increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The share of renewable energy in the final energy use in the EU is proposed to grow to 27 % in 2030.  The role of energy efficiency in achieving the goals of the 2030 framework will be proposed in a review of the Energy Efficiency Directive in the course of 2014.

The 2030 framework would be implemented by Member States through national plans for competitive, secure and sustainable energy. This would constitute a new governance framework based on the common approach proposed by the Commission. The Commission has also proposed limited reforms of the EU flagship initiative: the emissions trading scheme. The reform is necessary, if ETS is to achieve its 2030 target. In turn, the achievement of the 2030 target in the ETS sectors is a prerequisite of the successful implementation of the proposed mid-term policies.

For more information on the 2030 Framework and the 2050 roadmap, see the update for Clima East Partner Countries in January 2015 from DG CLIMA here , and our Key Expert’s presentation here

Effort Sharing 

Effort sharing sectors are responsible for about 60% of the EU total GHG emissions. Whereas the EU ETS covers CO2 and N2O emissions, effort sharing aims at reducing all 6 6 “Kyoto gases”: CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6.  Effort sharing covers all sectors except industrial sectors covered by the EU ETS, international aviation, LULUCF and international maritime transport. The concerned sectors include road transport and rail, domestic buildings, services, waste and agriculture. The sectors in question display major differences in cost-effective emission reduction potential, and emissions from some (e.g. transport) are difficult to contain. However, other EU-wide measures (energy efficiency standards, energy labelling, CO2 & cars) support Member States in achieving their reduction goals in non-ETS sectors at national levels. In order to reduce emissions in non-ETS sectors efficiently and at least cost, the EU shared the reduction effort among its Member States in line with their potential, and introduced mechanisms further facilitating these goals through the Effort Sharing Decision.