This report is in the form of memos from Climate Scorecard Country Managers to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC). Below is a description of the progress the country has made made in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and the challenges they still face in order to comply with the IPCC goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
To: Patricia Espinosa
Subject: Climate Scorecard Progress Report for the EU
From: Brittany Demogenes
Climate Scorecard EU Country Manager
I serve as Climate Scorecard Country Manager for the EU and would like to offer you the following climate mitigation progress report from the perspective of my organization.
Since its initial 2015 pledge to the Paris Agreement, the EU has made excellent progress in meeting the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
On the positive side, the EU has accomplished the creation and implementation of a European Green Deal. This is a breakthrough measure both regionally and internationally, as even the U.S. has never been able to successfully implement a Green Deal even though politicians have frequently advocated for it. The European Green Deal is essentially a package of measures designed to ensure that the EU reduces its emissions by 55% by 2030 and reaches net-zero emissions by 2050. Some of the notable measures that are part of the European Green Deal include a new EU Strategy on Climate Adaptation, a European Climate Pact that aims to engage civil society in climate action, and a 2030 Climate Target Plan.
The European Climate Law is also a part of the European Green Deal and is a particularly strong measure that creates legally binding requirements for Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The European Climate Law will allow the EU to more effectively monitor individual Member States and hold these States accountable if they deviate from their pledges. Another strong EU measure to note is its Innovation Fund, which is one of the largest funding programs for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies in the world. The creation of innovative solutions to combat climate change will be necessary in order to reach climate neutrality by 2050, and this fund could play a pivotal role in providing individuals with the resources they need to develop new technologies. For countries like Poland who have been more hesitant to implement proposed climate policies, which is arguably one of the biggest barriers to the EU meeting its climate change goals, the EU’s creation of a Just Transition Mechanism and a Just Transition fund will be useful in allowing for a smoother ease into a decarbonized world. The Just Transition fund provides grants for projects aligned with Europe’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, specifically by investing in projects in Member States that claim that they do not have the financial capital necessary to phase out coal and reduce emissions. The Just Transition Mechanism as a whole facilitates bank lending and private investment as a way to ensure that the EU’s proposed goals have the financial backing necessary to be successfully executed.
However, the following conditions remain in the EU that threaten its ability to make further progress and reach the important goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030. There is the issue of too much flexibility in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the EU’s Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) policies that allow actors in Member States to continue to pollute in the present by buying credits or by relying on others to take action to remedy their emissions. The LULUCF sets a binding commitment for each Member State to ensure that accounted emissions from land use are entirely compensated by an equivalent accounted removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through action in the sector.
The EU ETS is a carbon market that covers around 40% of the EU’s current emissions and limits emissions from around 10,000 installations in the power sector and manufacturing industry, as well as emissions from airlines. While the market mechanism logic that underpins the EU ETS is solid in that it is adaptable, it ultimately allows companies with excess money and power to continue to abuse their power and produce a large amount of greenhouse gases.
Moreover, while Member States have been told by the EU that they need to create a coal phase-out plan that ensures they will no longer rely on or use coal for energy by 2030, numerous Member States still have not submitted a plan. Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Poland, Serbia, Turkey have not even begun discussing a coal phase-out plan. Germany and Montenegro have submitted a plan but have stated that they will not phase out coal until after 2030. This array of responses to the EU’s request that Member States create a coal phase-out plan highlights a larger weakness in the EU’s ability to reach its climate goals.
While the EU’s policies may be well-intentioned and have the potential to be effective if properly implemented, without Member States’ support and implementation, the EU will not be able to reach a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030. Hence, the creation of more stringent and binding climate policies, like the Climate Law, will be necessary in order for the EU to make sure that Member States viably commit to reducing their emissions.
Climate Scorecard is committed to working with other like-minded organizations to support efforts by the EU to make further progress in its effort to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and help the Paris Agreement reach its important goals.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this report or need further information.