National climate targets undermined by loopholes

National emissions-reduction targets proposed for the transport, agriculture and buildings sectors include loopholes that would put their delivery at serious risk, environmental groups have warned. The regulation proposed by the European Commission will determine how member states share the burden of meeting the EU’s climate goals by 2030.

The targets, which cover 60% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and only apply to sectors not included in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS), would allow countries to use 100 million tonnes worth of surplus allowances from the ETS, according to T&E and Carbon Market Watch. It would also allow for 280 million tonnes worth of credits from forestry to compensate for emissions in sectors like agriculture and transport.

Countries that will miss their 2020 targets will also be rewarded by the regulation which sets  the starting point on the basis of the average 2016-2018 emissions. This leads to an inflated carbon budget for these countries.

T&E and Carbon Market Watch called on the European Parliament and member states to strengthen the EU’s largest climate legislation in line with the commitment made in Paris. Negotiations on the regulation are set to conclude in late 2017.

Carbon Market Watch’s Femke de Jong said: ‘This is the first test since the signing of the Paris Agreement and the EU cannot afford it to let it fail. The 2030 target for the non-traded sectors is only -30% which is not in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Worse, loopholes risk preventing the real-world delivery of this insufficient target by allowing countries to cheat their way out of their climate commitments.’

Rather than cutting emissions by at least 30 percent, the use of fake forestry credits and surplus ETS permits would lower the target for the non-traded sectors to merely 27 percent actual reductions, according to T&E and Carbon Market Watch.

T&E climate director William Todts said: ‘This proposed 2030 climate law has a lot of potential. It could bind 28 countries, half a billion people, to 2030 targets that require real change. There are plenty of solutions and technologies to meet the targets in a way that benefit not just the environment, but also jobs, the economy and Europe’s energy security. The loopholes that EU governments have requested – and the Commission is giving them in this proposal – are not just unnecessary but actually damaging.’