Implementation of Green Deal Industrial Plan and Fit for 55 Package Demonstrate EU’s Progress in Decreasing Emissions

Climate Progress in the First Half of 2003

Rating: A-Significant Progress

The most recent EU emissions data come from Eurostat and details emissions over the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022. Eurostat has written on its website that it plans to update its emissions charts in August 2023, so emissions data for the first quarter of 2023 (January-March) should be available now. In Q4 of 2022, the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 938 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, which marked a notable increase from its 853 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in Q3 of 2022. The largest portion of emissions in the EU in Q4 of 2022 came from the manufacturing sector.

The Green Deal Industrial Plan is one of the new policies that the EU implemented on February 1, 2023, aiming to accelerate the transition to climate neutrality by scaling up the EU’s manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies. Numerous acts fall under the realm of this plan, one of which is the Net-Zero Industry Act.

The Net-Zero Industry Act aims to simplify the regulatory framework surrounding net-zero technologies and to improve the European Union’s ability to invest in these technologies. Some of the pivotal parts of the act include each of the EU’s Member States designating one national authority to facilitate and coordinate the permit-granting process for net-zero technology manufacturing projects. Applications for net-zero technology projects are set to be assessed by Member States within a month, a Net-Zero Europe Platform has been established that will discuss how the financing of net-zero strategic project promoters’ projects can be completed, and Member States have agreed to provide data to the European Commission each year detailing net-zero technology developments and market trends, net-zero technology manufacturing capacity, and value and volume of imports into the European Union.

The  Net Zero Industry Act will enhance skills for net-zero technologies by setting up dedicated training programs through Net-Zero Academies and facilitating the portability of qualifications in regulated professions. The academies, each focussing on one net-zero industry technology, will aim to train 100.000 learners each within three years of establishment.

The Net-Zero Industry Act does not outline a quantitative prediction of how it will decrease emissions in the future. However, the EU notes that it aims to increase the competitiveness of the EU’s net-zero tech industrial base through the act, which will strengthen the resilience of the EU’s future decarbonized energy system. The EU also states that, by 2030, the act will ensure that an annual injection capacity of at least 50 million tonnes of CO2 is reached in EU storage sites.

With regard to the cost of the Net-Zero Industry Act, EUR 5.255 million is allotted to the creation of the Net-Zero Europe Platform, EUR 720,000 is allocated to the research and data analysis that will be necessary for monitoring the initiative and market developments, and EUR 5.5 million is allotted to support Net-Zero Industry Academies. These funds will come from the EU’s Multinational Financial Framework, the Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking budget, and the Single Market Programme budget.

Given the clear outline of how the EU will fund the Net-Zero Industry Act, the clear steps that Member States must take as a part of the act to increase the development of net-zero technologies in the EU, and the implementation plans, evaluation, and monitoring steps that are included as a part of the act, the act seems sustainable and can be readily executed by EU Member States.

Another proposal passed by the EU in December 2022 that will contribute to a decrease in its emissions is part of its Fit for 55 packages, a more extensive set of proposals meant to revise and update EU legislation. The proposal delineates new EU rules on methane emissions in the energy sector and aims to track and reduce methane emissions.

Some of the crucial parts of the proposal include that well, and mine operators must take appropriate mitigation measures to prevent and minimize methane emissions in their operations, mine operators must submit a leak and repair detection and repair program to competent authorities that include specific timelines of repair actions that will be carried out, venting and flaring is prohibited except under specified emergency circumstances, mine operators must perform continuous, direct measurement on exhaust ventilation shafts and other mining operations, and the EU is creating a methane transparency database. Additionally, the proposal establishes that each Member State must designate one or more competent authority to monitor and enforce the proposal’s application and that independent verifiers should ensure that emissions reports prepared by well and mine operators are correct. If regulations of the proposal are infringed upon, the EU outlines that Member States should carry out dissuasive penalties. The EU notes that it will support Member States in their implementation of this proposal through its Technical Support Instrument, which involves strengthening administrative capacity, harmonizing legislative frameworks, and sharing best practices.

Through more stringent regulations on mining operations, the EU projects that this proposal will play a significant role in achieving the goal set out in the Global Methane Pledge of reducing methane emissions by 30% until 2030. The EU’s proposal seems sustainable because it outlines specific and clear rules and reporting measures that mining operators must follow. However, the proposal’s sustainability will also depend upon the quality of the job performed by Member States’ elected competent authorities and independent verifiers and how any funding necessary to carry out the proposal will be obtained, as funding sources are not explicitly outlined in the proposal.

Given that EU emissions data for 2023 is not available, it is difficult to definitively state that the EU is making significant progress in reducing emissions. However, given the breadth of emissions sources that the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan, Fit for 55 packages, and other recently released climate strategies target, it appears that the EU is laying the groundwork necessary to meet its 2030 goal of decreasing emissions by at least 55% when compared to 1990 emissions levels. Notably, the EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan targets emissions in the manufacturing sector since this is where the greatest amount of emissions occurred in the EU in Q4 of 2022.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard European Union Manager Brittany Demogenes.

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