National Energy and Climate Plans
The current decade is a crucial phase of the Paris Agreement pathway that would allow us to stay within the 1.5°C limit established under the Paris Agreement and thus avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Member state governments are most concerned about supplying citizens with affordable energy. It is important to see that measures tackling climate change (incl. energy efficiency, sufficiency, accelerating the deployment of RES etc.) address both problems at the same time, while also providing new employment opportunities, boost the economy and contribute to the well-being of citizens. Short-term measures relying on ‘old proven’ fossil fuels, whether via old or new technology, or short-lived behavioural campaigns for reduced energy consumption should not jeopardise the achievement of climate goals and people’s health.
National Energy and Climate Plans
In this context, the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), established under the Governance Regulation, are a powerful instrument and an unmissable opportunity to accelerate national climate action across the EU towards this target. In their NECPs, EU Member States are required to describe, in an integrated manner, national climate and energy objectives and targets – as well as the policies and measures to achieve them – for the period from 2021 to 2030.
NECPs were submitted for the first time in 2019. However, according to the Governance Regulation, EU Member States are now supposed to carry out a revision process: the draft revised plans are to be submitted by June 2023; the final revised plans, which should factor in the Commission’s feedback, will then be submitted in June 2024.
This revision process arrives at a crucial time. Today we are facing very different circumstances compared to when the first NECPs were finalised in 2019. With the adoption of its Climate Law in 2021, the EU has increased its 2030 climate target from 40% emission reductions to at least 55% net emission cuts (compared to 1990 levels), and in 2021 the European Commission proposed the ‘Fit for 55’ package to adjust the entire climate and energy framework of the EU to this renewed level of ambition. Additionally in 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ‘REPowerEU’ package proposal was published with the aim of weaning the EU off its reliance on energy imports from Russia, which further signalled the need for concrete plans to halt Russian gas imports, to stop using fossil fuels overall, as well as to ambitiously curb energy demand, ramp up sustainable renewables and roll out flexibility options.
The revised NECPs must at the very least be up to speed with these new circumstances, and have the potential to be the main strategic planning tools to accelerate climate action and deliver the switch to a sustainable energy system, based on already available advanced technologies, to the benefit of the whole society. A recent report by Climate Analytics shows that the EU could reach net zero emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than planned, if its policies followed one of the many feasible 1.5°C compatible pathways seeking substantial emissions reductions.
While the scope of the NECPs is enshrined in the Governance Regulation (the template that EU Member States must fill in is under Annex I), in November 2022 the European Commission published a guidance document to ensure that this new legislation and increased level of climate and energy ambition are correctly taken into account by Member States during the revision of their NECPs. In the document, NECPs are clearly framed as strategic planning tools – instrumental to accelerate the implementation of the EU Green Deal and speeding up the clean energy transition and ending any dependence on Russian fossil fuels as well as delivering on the REPowerEU plan. We strongly recommend to everyone engaged with the NECP revision process to get familiar with those guidelines and use them as a check-list for the areas of expertise.
This revision process is especially crucial for the Central Eastern European region, considering how intensely the Russian aggression over Ukraine has impacted our region and how strongly we as citizens reacted to it. In this context, this process becomes a decisive moment for CEE countries to finally take ownership of ambitious climate action, and design clear roadmaps to fully realise the climate, economic and social potential of a just energy transition in our countries.
In this context, it is especially crucial for the Member States to approach the NECPs drafting process as a strategic moment and measure to guide a complex vision on energy transition towards EU climate neutrality. Instead of being focused mainly on the short term solutions and “crisis management”, long term perspective and planning is needed, to ensure stability for various actors and their actions, ranging from business actors and cities to workers, farmers and citizens. This requires a coherent, science-based, vision of energy transition to be developed that would address challenges and opportunities faced by all economic sectors as well as the social dimension of these processes.
Following the recommendation to consider the regional perspective when drafting the NECPs we, as civil society actors from the CEE region, developed specific regional basic principles for this process, which are guided by the scientific principles of limiting climate change to 1.5°C as agreed in the Paris Agreement, and based on the PAC Scenario.
Central and Eastern Europe Specific Principles
- Participation & monitoring
- Building towards a climate neutrality target
- Implementation of the targets
- Analytical basis
- Planning funding towards the right policies and measures
- Energy Savings and Renewables at the core
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