EU-wide plans to achieve sustainability: updating national plans

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In December 2023, the Commission called on the member states’ governance to enhance national efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and set out clearer plans on adaptation to climate change. Besides, the Commission also invited the states to better prepare for an increased uptake of renewables and to enhance energy efficiency measures.   

   The EU-wide energy and climate plans for 2021-2030 have outlined the ways the member states intend to meet their 2030 energy and climate targets; initial national energy/climate plans, NECPs were submitted already at the end of 2019. Since then, key “Fit for 55” legislation has been completed and the NECPs now require an update to align with the revised EU-wide legislation. Thus, the member states were required to submit their updated draft plans by the end of June 2023, prior to the submission of final updated plans in June 2024.
The plans have to address five requirements that include: e.g. the EU energy union and the member states’ commitments under the European climate law, the rules in the “Fit for 55” package, as well as requirements in the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and the REPowerEU plan.

Commission’s key findings and recommendations
Present Commission’s EU-wide assessment is accompanied by a set of recommendations and individual assessments for 21 member states that submitted NECPs.
The Commission assessment finds that:
= By the end of 2023, draft NECPs are not yet sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030; current measures would lead to a reduction of 51%;
= Further ambition is needed to close a gap of 6.2% in the effort sharing sectors compared to the 40% target;
= There is a gap of around 40-50 MtCO2eq compared to the 310 MtCO2eq target under the LULUCF Regulation, showing an enhancement of the carbon sink is necessary;
Source: On climate targets, regulation 2023/839 in
= For renewable energy, the current drafts would lead to a share of 38.6-39.3% of renewables in the energy mix by 2030, compared to the 42.5% target;
= For energy efficiency, the current drafts would lead to 5.8% energy efficiency improvements, compared to the target of 11.7%.

   The Commission also highlights the importance and urgency of phasing out the use of fossil fuels in energy generation, notably solid fossil fuels. In addition, the persistence of fossil fuel subsidies in all member states, including in transport, is identified as another obstacle to the EU’s pathway towards climate neutrality. Subsidies which do not address energy poverty or the just transition need to be phased out as soon as possible and be directed instead to innovation and supporting vulnerable groups with the transition.
The Commission also encourages the states to give more attention to energy security in their final NECPs and stresses the need to urgently boost the competitiveness of European clean energy value chains. Final NECPs should provide clarity and predictability for businesses and investors as well as facilitate planning for the use of public funds.
The Commission recommends the states better plan to diversify their energy supply in a competitive manner; besides, better anticipating the necessary structural changes in the energy system will enable consumers to benefit from a cost-effective and flexible energy market.
More attention in the states’ governance should also be paid to reskilling and upskilling as well as employment and social impacts and measures to ensure a green transition that is just, inclusive and leaves no one behind.
Significant further measures are also necessary to adapt to climate change and enhance resilience, including in the energy system; besides, the final NECPs need to sufficiently address climate related impacts. The Commission made additional recommendations under the EU climate law on the consistency of the member states’ measures with the Union’s climate-neutrality objective and with ensuring progress on adaptation.
On climate legislation in:

Updated NECPs
The NECPs set out the ways each member state’s roadmap would collectively meet the EU’s legally binding target of 55% GHG emission reductions by 2030, and its energy and climate objectives.
The updated drafts of NECPs will bring the states closer to “meeting the EU’s 2030 targets” and “implementing recently agreed legislation”. However, there is a clear need for extra efforts, also in light of the COP28 outcome and the global call to accelerate the needed actions during this decade. In mid-December 2023, the Commission has called on the member states’ governance to enhance national efforts on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and set out clearer plans on adaptation to climate change.
The EU main executive institution also invites the states to better prepare for an increased uptake of renewables and enhance energy efficiency measures. Additional measures are also needed to empower security for consumers, improve energy sufficiency and support companies in strengthening their competitiveness. Greater efforts will be necessary to ensure access to available sources of funding and stimulate the crucial investments required for the competitiveness of European industry.
Present Commission’s in-depth analysis is based on 21 NECPs which have been submitted by the end of 2023; three EU states submitted their draft plans too late for a country-specific assessment and other three states have still not submitted their draft plans.
All EU states must submit their final updated NECPs by 30 June 2024, taking into account the Commission’s recommendations and individual assessments. The updated plans should ensure their adequate ambitions and sufficiently detailed goals which form a solid basis to accelerate implementation in the coming years.
Note. The member states which have not yet submitted their draft updated NECPs are Austria, Bulgaria and Poland need to do so without further delay; the drafts recently received from Belgium, Ireland and Latvia will be assessed by the Commission in early 2024.

Commissioners’ opinion
The following commissioners expressed their opinion on the revised national sustainability plans:
= “The EU is a leader in the fight against climate change; what we do at home is the foundation of our climate diplomacy abroad, as COP28 demonstrated. We adopted the European Climate Law in record time, to deliver on our 2030 ambition. Key legislation to make the EU reach 55% emissions reductions is already in force. The evaluation of states’ draft updated NECPs is now proof that we have taken yet another step in the right direction to implement our ambitious objectives. However, it is clear we need stronger commitments in the final plans to put us firmly on the right track to climate neutrality, build resilience to climate impacts and to capitalize on the gains that come from the climate and energy transition”.
By Wopke Hoekstra, Commissioner for Climate Action – 18/12/2023

    = “We have gone through the energy crisis together, and concluded many important initiatives, which will shape our future and fast-track the energy transition. Now it is time to implement our joint ambitious commitments. The national energy and climate plans are key tools to set a clear path towards a clean, resilient and digitalised energy system. Our economies are waiting for clear investment signals and our citizens for strategies on how to keep energy prices at an affordable level for the long-term; thus, finalizing ambitious plans before the summer is therefore one of the top priorities”.
By Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy – 18/12/2023

    = “The EU has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and the “Fit for 55” legislation is now in place to enable it. Ensuring effective and complete implementation at national level is our main task now. This is why it is crucial to update the National Energy and Climate Plans with resolute ambition. We have shown leadership at COP28, and this is the chance to demonstrate that we are ready to deliver on the ground and firmly fight climate change. The Commission stands ready to support the states in this process, including by promoting good practices in using the available sources of funding for the green transition”.
By Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European green deal, 18/12/2023
Citations from:

    More information in the following Commission’s web-links: = Communication: EU-wide assessment of the draft updated NECPs; = Questions and answers; = National energy and climate plans (NECPs); = European Climate Law.



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