The European Union is aiming to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality and reduce its net emissions to zero in the next 30 years. In setting this target, the European Commission committed the EU to taking on a leading role in protecting our climate at the UN climate change conference. To what extent will the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action that was adopted by the European Council on 3 December 2018 contribute to achieving this goal?
The regulation requires all member states to develop integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs) setting out their targets, strategies and measures for reducing emissions. If the plans or their implementation are considered to be unsatisfactory, the European Commission may recommend amendments, although these are not legally binding.
ESYS is a joint initiative of acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities. The ESYS project experts believe that the regulation does not go far enough. In their view, it will only be possible to ensure mandatory compliance with the plans if they are transposed into national law. According to Sabine Schlacke, “Germany’s energy and climate plan should become the central instrument of the forthcoming Federal Climate Protection Act. In addition, the national strategy for phasing out coal currently being formulated by the “coal commission” should be incorporated into the plan by the Federal Government”. Schlacke is Director of the Institute for Environmental and Planning Law at the University of Münster and co-chair of the working group that produced the position paper “Governance for a European Energy Union”.