National governments do little to share effort on climate goals

National governments and MEPs have reached a provisional deal on Europe’s key climate law which will cover about 60% of the Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The Effort Sharing Regulation, now renamed the Climate Action Regulation, provides flexibilities and loopholes that could see Europe miss its 2030 target. The law sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period for sectors not covered in the emissions trading system, mainly: road transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.

After weeks of negotiations, the European Council and Parliament representatives reached a compromise on the legislation’s starting point – starting at June 2019. While marginally more ambitious than the Commission’s proposal, this baseline is later than the Parliament wanted – meaning countries will have to do less to meet their emissions targets. In addition, countries not achieving their 2020 targets will also be rewarded, which the Parliament tried to avoid. The concessions have been resisted until the very end by shadow rapporteurs from the centre-left, Green and left groups in Parliament.

A virtually unlimited ‘banking’ flexibility will also mean member states can build up large quantities of unused allocations and use them at the end of the period when targets are stricter.

T&E’s analysis and climate manager, Carlos Calvo Ambel, said: ‘Europe’s governments are continuing their two-faced approach to climate action with fancy statements at climate summits but precious little ambition where it counts. The European Parliament has tried hard to moderate member states’ position, but effort sharing can’t work when governments make hardly any effort.’

The deal still needs to be ratified by member states’ representatives and voted on by the full plenary of the Parliament. T&E has called on MEPs to reject the compromise. Carlos Calvo Ambel concluded: ‘In negotiations the national governments finally got their way on the so-called starting point, which determines the trajectory of national annual carbon budgets until 2030. This misleading baseline means countries will be allowed to emit more for a whole decade. This is simply not enough to stick to our Paris commitments, and MEPs should acknowledge this by rejecting the compromise and sending their representatives back into negotiations.’

Another loophole secured by governments, a so-called safety reserve, rewards some member states for making emissions savings under easy targets before 2020.

The amount of forestry credits that could be used to offset emissions in the ESR sector would be limited to 280Mt CO2e, as originally proposed by the Commission. Forestry (LULUCF) credits are controversial due to the weak accounting rules currently being discussed.