The lower the ambitions of the member states until 2030, the more difficult it will be for the EU to reach the target for 2040 – a 90% reduction in (net) greenhouse gas emissions.

Ljubljana, February 29, 2024 – Until the end of June, the member states of the European Union have time to work on updating their national energy and climate plans (NECPs). These are extremely important documents for dealing with the climate crisis at the national level, and without strengthening the goals of the member states, even the EU will not fulfill its ambitions in the field of climate and energy. Governments have the responsibility to prepare the final versions of NECPs in the next four months in such a way that they respond as best as possible to the urgency of the climate crisis. Some of the preparation challenges were highlighted at yesterday’s international conference Road to 1.5 °C: Climate and Energy Planning in Central and Eastern Europe, which also offered recommendations and examples of measures that should serve as an example.

Time is short, but still enough

We are approaching the target level of the preparation of NECPs, which will significantly mark the direction of development of EU countries until 2030. A critical review of the updated NECPs drafts, which were submitted to the European Commission by the deadline, showed that they still have significant shortcomings. Several countries have not met even the minimum climate and energy requirements of the EU until 2030, which themselves are not (yet) in compliance with the Paris Agreement and the limitation of the rise of the average global temperature to 1.5 °C.

Four months is a relatively short period, but time is still enough, was one of the messages at the international conference dedicated to the process of preparing NECPs. In the last year, most of the member states have already achieved progress, but now the last steps to strengthen the goals, improve the planned measures and involve the public in a more transparent manner are on the line. Positive changes must go in the direction indicated last December by the European Commission in its evaluation of the NECPs and its recommendations. The findings of non-governmental organizations in the Together For 1.5 project, within the framework of which the aforementioned conference was held at the Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art in Ljubljana, also indicate the necessary path.

Federico Mascolo, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “Despite some improvements compared to the old version, draft NECP updates still fall short in both ambition and quality. How can Member States make them fit for purpose? By including more ambitious goals in the field of climate, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, they design appropriate policies and measures to achieve them, and clearly identifying investment needs and funding. Without forgetting the basics: final NECP updates must include plans to phase out fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies, as well as plans addressing the social and just transition aspects of the transition”. 



Recipe for success: public involvement and participation

A fair green transition and climate neutrality of the EU will not be achieved without thorough planning and comprehensive public involvement. The emphasis of the second of the three parts of yesterday’s conference, entitled The Road to 1.5°C: Climate and Energy Planning in Central and Eastern Europe, was that dialogue – on several levels and within the region – is very important, and the key is above all better integration the public and the institutions and communities that will take care of the implementation.

In its feedback in December, the European Commission also recommended to all member states that they should improve the process of involving the public, whereby a transparent process for considering proposals is also important. The latter has so far been a weak point in the process of preparing the Slovenian NECP.

In her introductory speech, State Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy Tina Seršen announced that the last public consultation in Slovenia will probably be held in April. Otherwise, Slovenia is a shining example in this area in the region, which is why Danijel Crnčec from the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy presented the concept of public participation in the updating of the Slovenian NECP, in which, among other things, targeted workshops were held with specific stakeholders. He assessed the process as a time- and personnel-intensive process. The first consultation received more than 1,000 comments from more than 100 stakeholders, and based on this experience, the third public consultation should be built upon.

Acting more quickly is not only necessary, but also brings many benefits

The green transition also makes sense from an economic point of view and brings many long-term benefits for society and the economy. Member states must rely on this vision in the process of preparing the NECP, and not the belief that investments in climate action are expensive and negative for the economy, was also one of the emphases of the participants at the round table that concluded the conference.

The starting point of the round table was the report Paris Agreement and the 1.5°C Scenario: Acceleration of the Green Transition and Benefits for Society and the Economy published in January , which was created under the auspices of the CAN Europe network. In it, it was estimated that by following the 1.5°C scenario by 2030, the EU could obtain direct benefits in the amount of at least one billion euros, and Slovenia almost four billion. Furthermore, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Taj Zavodnik, environmental organization Focus:“There is no cheaper, more reliable and fairer alternative for decisive and accelerated climate action than following the Paris Agreement and the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, which is also warned by science.” In line with the IPCC’s warnings and taking into account its historical responsibility and capacity to act, the EU should reduce its emissions by at least 65% compared to 1990 by 2030. Member States must support this with their ambitions. NECPs are their fundamental strategic tool, in which they will determine key reforms to achieve climate and energy goals and to mobilize key investments.”

The conference was organized by the environmental organization Focus with the support of the CAN Europe network, which brings together more than 200 organizations from 40 European countries, and other partners from the Together For 1.5 project: Croatian organizations DOOR, Czech CDE, Polish ISD, MTVSZ from Hungary, ELF from Estonia and ZaZemiata from Bulgaria. You can find the program here and the Slovenian Press Release here.