Through extensive legislative process with the EU institutions, the member states, legal experts and researchers the Commission has prepared a strategic vision for a climate-neutral European Union and new directions in energy security: consultations were finished in 2018, followed by a high-level conference in 2020. These preparations provided for a new legal sector – the European climate law, a major legal act in dealing with the climate change actions and energy.
After its finalization and adoption, the climate law was published in the Official Journal on 9 July 2021 and entered into force on 29 July 2021. The EU-wide public and states’ governance have had all possibilities to provide feedback on the roadmap for the climate law’s legislative proposal, with nearly a thousand contributions.
More in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/events/high-level-public-conference-european-climate-law-2020-jan-28_en, and https://ec.europa.eu/info/events/high-level-public-conference-european-climate-law-2020-jan-28_en
EU’s climate-neutral economy
According to the climate strategy, the EU aims to be climate-neutral economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement.
On EU’s long-term climate strategy in: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/eu-action/climate-strategies-targets/2050-long-term-strategy_en
The transition to a climate-neutral society is both an urgent challenge and an opportunity to build a better future for all EU states; hence, all parts of the member states socio-economic sectors are going to play a vital role: i.e. from the power sector to industry, mobility, buildings, agriculture and forestry, etc.
With this legal act, the EU can lead a perspective way in the global community by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens and aligning actions in key areas such as industrial policy, finance and research, while ensuring social fairness for a just transition. The EU member states are required to develop national long-term strategies on the ways to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement and the EU long-term objectives. On national strategies in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/energy-climate-change-environment/implementation-eu-countries/energy-and-climate-governance-and-reporting/national-long-term-strategies_en
The Regulation on the governance of the energy union and climate action (EU/2018/1999) sets out a process for the member states to prepare these strategies and new strategies every 10 years thereafter. The long-term strategies should be consistent with the EU member states’ integrated national energy and climate plans for the period of 2021-30.
Regulation’s revised consolidated version in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02018R1999-20210729
The EU climate law’s context
The regulation on the “governance of the energy union and climate action”, so-called European climate law includes the following goals:
• a legal objective for the Union to reach climate neutrality by 2050;
• an ambitious 2030 climate target of at least 55% reduction of net emissions of greenhouse gases as compared to 1990, with clarity on the contribution of emission reductions and removals;
• recognition of the need to enhance the EU’s carbon sink through a more ambitious LULUCF regulation, for which the Commission made a proposal in July 2021;
• a process for setting a 2040 climate target, taking into account an indicative greenhouse gas budget for 2030-2050 to be published by the Commission;
• a commitment to negative emissions after 2050;
• the establishment of European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, that will provide independent scientific advice;
• stronger provisions on adaptation to climate change;
• strong coherence across Union policies with the climate neutrality objective; and
• a commitment to engage with sectors to prepare sector-specific roadmaps charting the path to climate neutrality in different areas of the economy
On the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action in the EU in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2018.328.01.0001.01.ENG
The climate law has also the following objectives:
• Set the long-term direction of travel for meeting the 2050 climate neutrality objective through all policies, in a socially fair and cost-efficient manner;
• Set a more ambitious EU 2030 target, to set Europe on a responsible path to becoming climate-neutral by 2050;
• Create a system for monitoring progress and take further action if needed;
• Provide predictability for investors and other economic actors; and
• Ensure that the transition to climate neutrality is irreversible
Thus the EU climate law is, actually, aimed at achieving climate neutrality; reference to: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32021R1119.
European climate law: key elements
The European climate law sets a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The EU Institutions and the member states are bound to take the necessary measures at EU and national level to meet the target, taking into account the importance of promoting fairness and solidarity among the EU-27 states.
The climate law includes measures to keep track of progress and adjust the states’ actions based on existing components of the EU-member states’ management system: e.g. through the governance process for the states’ national energy and climate plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts. Progress will be reviewed every five years, in line with the global priorities under the Paris Agreement.
Note: To help the EU reach its 2030 climate and energy targets, the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union sets common rules for planning, reporting and monitoring; the Regulation also ensures that EU planning and reporting is synchronized with the management cycles under the Paris Agreement.
The national plans have to address the following vital for the EU priorities issues: energy efficiency, renewables, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, energy interconnections, as well as research and innovation. More in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/energy-climate-change-environment/implementation-eu-countries/energy-and-climate-governance-and-reporting/national-energy-and-climate-plans_en
The EU climate law also addresses the necessary steps to get to the 2050 climate targets:
• Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the EU has set a new target for 2030 of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to levels in 1990; the new EU 2030 target is included in the climate law.
• In July 2021, the Commission adopted a series of proposals to revise all relevant policy instruments to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030.
• The climate law also includes a process for achieving the EU-2040 climate target.
General reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/eu-action/european-green-deal/european-climate-law_en.
More in: – Regulation (EU) 2021/1119: European Climate Law; – Commission proposal for a Regulation: European Climate Law; – Commission amended proposal for a Regulation: European Climate Law (in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02018R1999-20210729) ; and – Climate Law Factsheet.
Technological support and business: hydrogen example
According to the International Energy Agency, almost half of the technologies needed to reach net pollution zero by 2050 are still to be developed. This makes investing in new technology and innovation essential: e.g. Equinor Ventures just announced its investment in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, aiming to commercialize fusion energy. While speeding up innovations to achieve 2050 targets, the company also uses available technology to cut emissions. See more in: https://www.equinor.com/en/what-we-do/hydrogen.html?msg_pos=2&utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=0c2c0cd389-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_12_18_08_59&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-0c2c0cd389-189017225.
Clean hydrogen technologies are already available and can provide European industries with environmental-friendly energy sources; though the hydrogen market is still small and immature, the EU’s new “gas and decarbonisation” package is an opportunity to remove barriers and enable the emergence of a technology-neutral hydrogen solutions for economic development. In order to be “fit for 55” plan by 2030, the member states must achieve a quick reduction of all pollution sources by using all available modern technologies: example of hydrogen can accelerate the energy transition and develop a perspective EU-wide hydrogen market and infrastructure.
More on hydrogen in: