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EU Climate Policy Post 2012

Updated: December, 2008

EU Climate Policy Development 2009

Following the consultation on post 2012 climate policies October 2008 (read INFORSE-Europe response), the EU Commission is preparing a policy initiative on future climate policies in the beginning of 2009, to cover isses not addressed by the EU Climate & Energy Package.

EU Climate & Energy Package Adopted
Just before Christmas, the major EU climate and energy package was adopted with compromises on a new renewable energy directive, EU Emmissions Trading System (EU-ETS) after 2012, effort sharing among EU countries to reach a 20% reduction in 2020 from 1990 (up to 30% with an international agreement), subsidies and legislation for carbon capture and storage (CCS), subsidies for new power plants, etc. Compared with the original proposal and the changes proposed by the EU Parliament, the compromise leaves more loopholes for countries to buy emission allowances instead of reducing own emissions and give more allowances for free to greenhouhse gas emmitters. It leaves important questions of EU financial contributions to a global climate agreement to a coming EU summit in March 2009. The package was agreed among the EU countries December 12 and was then agreed to by the EU Parliament in the following week. Thus, no second reading is needed.

Airline Emissions Compromise
A major step has been made to cut aviation emissions: a compromise agreement was reached between the European Parliament and the EU countries on airline emissions on June 26, 2008. With this agreement aviation will be included in the EU-ETS in 2012. Emissions from planes will be reduced by 3% in 2012 (compared to the 2004-2006 level) and by 5% in 2013. According to the compromise, 85% of the emission certificates will be allocated for free whereas the 15% remaining will be auctioned. The agreement was then formally endorsed by the European Parliament during its following plenary meeting in July. It will be formally endorsed by the Council later.

EU Energy Package with Renewable Energy Directive (ETS, Targets 2020, etc.)

New EU Climate Targets and New EU Energy Policies
At their Summit, March 8, 2007 the EU Prime ministers agreed upon Energy and Climate Policies for the 27 EU countries and including:
- a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 1990 - 2020 on the condition that other countries also commit to reductions, and with a view to reduce GHG emissions 60-80% by 2050. If an international agreement is not possible, they agreed that the EU countries must reduce GHG emissions at least 20% for the period 1990 - 2020.
- a binding target to increase renewable energy to 20% of primary energy supply in 2020 for the countries combined,
- an indicative energy efficiency target of 20% increase until 2020, and
- a binding target for increase of biofuels in transport fuels in sustainable ways to 10% by 2020.

Climate and Energy Package Developments (2008) and
March 8, 2007 Summit's Conclusions, INFORSE-Europe's Comment March 2007, Presentation of European Sustainable Energy Policy Seminar, March 20, 2007.

An important background for the EU leaders’ energy and climate decisions is the EU commission energy package.

European Climate Program Update 2005-2006

In 2006, EU is reviewed its climate policies and planned new actions in the European Climate Change Program (ECCP). The review was started with a large stakeholder conference on October 24, 2005 and continued with review of climate policy and development of new proposals in the first half of 2006. A number of working groups has reviewed results of the previous European Climate Change Program, and worked on proposals for new areas such as aviation and CO2 sequestration. There were 5 review groups (energy supply, energy demand, transport, other gases than CO2, agriculture and forestry) and groups on impact & adaptation, carbon capture & storage, aviation, light duty vehicles. Reports are available from a number of working groups at the "circa" website (see below). They formed some of the basis for the EU commission energy packet, January 2007

EU Emission Trading was dealt with in a special group.

INFORSE-Europe participated in the review together with CAN-Europe, participating in review groups for energy supply and energy demand.

See the ECCP website

Read public working documents from the process (circa website), including the input on energy supply from INFORSE-Europe and other NGOs.

New EU Targets on Climate, March 30, 2005

March 23, 2005, the EU leaders agreed to aim for a 15-30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 for industrialised countries, subject to future cost-benefit analyses and international negotiations. They also confirmed the commitment of EU countries to work for a limit of global warming to 2'C above pre-industrial level.

They did not confirm the EU environmental ministers' proposal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions with 60-80% by 2050; but with the commitment to the limit global warming to 2'C, it is hard to see how it can be realised with less than 60-80% reductions by 2050. The higher end of the reductions, 30% (and 80% in 2050) ia according to the scientists the minimal reductions to limit global warming to 2'C, if applied throughout the industrialised world.

The new targets for EU and the commitments that go with them shows the will to act. Other countries must act as well, if we want to stabilise the climate; but with a clear signal from EU it will be easier for them. Further, to meet the targets technical solutions will be developed that the whole world can use.

Researchers have found the costs of reductions are considerable but affordable, maybe 0,6% of GDP; but the studies usually not include the costs of energy crisis and the late increases in fossil fuel prices. The reduction of CO2-emissions is strongly linked to fossil fuel consumption, and if this consumption is not reduced, EU's growing dependence of the scarcer and more expensive imported fossil fuels is likely to be much more costly than any of the proposed climate mitigation measures. In this way, activities to reduce fossil fuel use to stabilise the climate also becomes activities to stabilise the economies, shielding them from the most negative effects of coming energy crisis.

Even though the targets are hardly sufficient to stabilise the climate, we will welcome them from INFORSE. They are a good framework for the upcoming discussions on the next Kyoto period 2013-2017. Then future politicians can discuss the need to strengthen the targets for the following periods.
Just now it is essential that the agreements are followed up nationally. Measures to reach the targets must be agreed, nationally and on EU-level. They must be implemented via new national actions, via new EU-wide initiatives, and with cooperation beyond the borders of the EU countries.

Commenting on the targets, many environmental organisations have welcomed it, though stated that it might not be sufficient, while some industry organisations have advocated for a delay in setting the targets.

Commission Report on future Climate Targets 2005

The EU Commission released a communication of post2012 climate policies in February "Winning the Battle Against Climate Change” (SEC 2005-180), in which it states that "Doing nothing is not an option"; but it also concluded that it is "…….not recommending the adoption of a specific EU target at this stage." As presented above, the countries have decided to one step further and recommend targets. The Commission has a number of other proposals, such as implementing policies to reach the present target for 2008-2012, include climate issues in EU's cooperation with other countries, en energy efficiency initiative and a new European Climate Change Programme.

Read about the Commission activities at

All inputs to EU Commission Stakeholder Consultation, October 2004, including INFORSE-Europe's submission. See seperately, the INFORSE-Europe's submission answering to 7 questions given by the EU Commission. October/ November 22, 2004.

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