Change is underway, with renewables flourishing and demand for fossil gas declining, while coal has no future in sight. National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) are the right opportunity to push the fast-forward button and accelerate climate action. Inspiring stories from all over Europe showcase how the just transition can be accelerated, as the deadline for Member States to come up with their new draft NECPs – end of June 2023 – is swiftly approaching.

Climate and environment NGOs based in 12 European countries gathered almost one hundred concrete examples of climate action measures implemented on the ground. These should inspire all governments and put Europe on track for achieving a safe and stable climate and to ensure we all harvest the benefits of a sustainable life.

By examining the stories of countries taking action, such as promoting clean public transport, advancing renewable energy deployment, greening cities, shortening food supply chains, and combating energy poverty, we can find inspiration. We should urge our governments to include these effective measures in their NECPs and exclude those that civil society deems problematic.


Countries are required to communicate their contribution to the binding EU renewables target for 2030 in their NECPs, and they should go beyond the bare minimum.

A prosperous and sustainable energy future, fully based on renewable energy is possible, by taking bold actions and boosting the clean energy transition in NECPs. The examples below show the transition is already underway, but we must scale up significantly.

More than 2.5 GW of new solar power for self-consumption was installed in 2022

Although far behind other European countries, renewable prosumerism has finally taken-off in Spain and for the second consecutive year doubles the figures for solar installed power in homes...

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A Renewable Energy Contact Point for the uptake of renewable energy in Slovenia

A Renewable Energy Contact Point has been established to provide information on renewable energy sources and to promote investments in renewable energy in Slovenia. The contact point guides investors...

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Renewable energy investments are expanding

Investments in renewable energy are expanding. Belgium is a leader in offshore wind, and the residential installation rate in photovoltaics has increased due to the effects of the energy crisis. However, especially in relation..

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Time for renewables rollout

Germany is planning a considerable rollout of renewable energy, but is still lacking measures on community energy. The updated German NECP needs to incorporate energy communities in...

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Ceasing restrictions on solar and wind power plants

One very promising element of the 2019 Hungarian NECP is the increase of renewable energy use. The now planned elimination of the previously introduced restrictions...

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Poland reaches 50GW of renewables in 2030

Poland’s newest plans include over 50 GW of renewable power to be deployed by 2030. The updated NECP should reflect and include these new plans, striving for...

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The wrong investments, lack of capacity or false policy decisions can hinder the needed uptake of renewable energy. Attention should be paid to the existing shortcomings such as the lack of engineering capacity, and to the potential effect on nature.

Massive renewable deployment clashes with local communities and nature conservation

Although the deployment of renewables in Spain has been successful in recent years, the implementation has been mostly based on large installations, with general lack of social consensus and...

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Sustainable Mobility

A strong NECP should include a transport target, and  policies and measures to tackle this sector that is so far lagging behind in emission reduction.

Without additional and timely action, emissions from the transport sector will continue growing in Europe. By supporting modal switch and accelerating the uptake of public transport and zero-emission vehicles (as shown by examples) countries could swifty decarbonise and improve air quiality.

Prioritise the railway connection between Lisbon and Madrid

The national railway plan does not emphasise enough the need to connect Lisbon and Madrid by rail in under three hours. This should be a priority in the upcoming...

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Upgrade the public transport ticketing system

Revolutionary new system should integrate ticketing and on-demand shared transportation in Portugal, paving the way for a more efficient and eco-friendly future...

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Shared electric transport to grow even more with public support

Shared electric mobility is boosting with almost no public support, if institutions join forces with private investors even more citizens would will get out of their fossil- fuel-runned-vehicles..

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Tax reform made electric cars mainstream

For years EV have constituted only a single digit percentage of the annual new car purchases in Denmark. This was partly due to uncertainty about how EV and EV-electricity...

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Introducing a flight tax

Flight tax - the first step towards putting a real carbon price on air transport?

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Between 2013 and 2019 transport emissions were constantly on the rise in Europe. Road transport remains the major headache across Europe and the progress to decarbonise is too slow, this sector needs a lot more attention and careful planning in NECPs.

Public transport policy not on track with pledges

Flanders promised a reduction in vehicle kilometres by 2030. This requires a strong boost in public transport, along with other policies. The benefits would be enormous, yet there has been more talk than walk..

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No measures to reduce car traffic

The government’s slogan: Hungarians by car!

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An effective ecological transition in the transport sector must focus on electrification

In Spain, road transport alone accounts for 27.6% of the total GHG emissions. Advanced biofuels emerge as an alternative to decarbonise the sector, an inefficient solution in monetary...

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The buildings sector holds considerable potential to lower emissions, and NECPs should include detailed measures to address it.

The integration of renewable heating systems, energy savings and efficiency improvements in dwellings have a huge potential to alleviate the effects of energy poverty, as well as greater resilience to fossil fuel price rises. The momentum to renovate buildings is already high in some of the countries.

Heating and cooling must be renewable, accessible, efficient, and affordable for all. Governments cannot ignore this, and must put enough attention and support behind building decarbonisation policies in NECPs.

Greening Cities

Who doesn’t want to live in a green city with healthy air, good public transport, safe biking, reduced noise and congestion? NECPs should induce local climate action.

We already see positive changes where cities are provided with funds to target e.g. waste management, plastic reduction, urban planning and biodiversity, air quality and health. See below some good initiatives from Spain and Croatia.

Massive constructions and urban sprawl go against a sustainable and livable life in cities.The revised NECPs should provide a framework to make our cities greener, healthier.


Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions changed very little at the EU level in the last 15 years. Additional measures are needed urgently to decarbonise this sector.

We have gathered some good examples of tackling agricultural emissions: incorporating agriculture in the revised NECPS as France did, and including measures covering also livestock and food supply chains (Portugal) is the way to go.

Measures connected to sustainable farming and the agricultural sector are generally lacking in the NECPs and/or in alternatives falling short behind LULUCF and nature protection objectives.

Current measures fall short to reach Estonia’s LULUCF target

In order to achieve its climate targets, Estonia needs to introduce additional measures for emissions reductions in the LULUCF sector...

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Money for change

In their NECPs, countries must assess how much (public and private) money is needed to implement the transformative policies and measures.

Funds and taxes have a powerful impact on policies and trends at the national level. Public investments planned under the NECPs – coming from either EU funds or national resources  should be directed exclusively toward transformative, climate-proof measures. Taxation policy adjustments can also have a positive impact, as seen in some of the examples below. 

No money should flow towards fossil fuels or any other false solution that would generate stranded assets and lock-in effects. Countries are also required to report on their fossil fuel subsidies and plans to phase them out in their NECPs.

Croatia overlooks research, innovation, and competitiveness

Despite the existence of six defined measures to support research, innovation, and competitiveness in Croatia, only one of them has been partially implemented. There is a severe lack...

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Priority investments hinder public participation in Hungary

Thousands of projects are being labelled as priority investments in Hungary, with shorter administrative deadlines and less stringent criteria on disclosing public information, making public participation especially difficult...

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Community energy

Member states should boost the build up of renewables-based energy communities in response to the current energy crisis and looming climate emergency.

Energy communities put power in the  hands of people. Renewable based, decentralised energy systems are a key element in mitigating energy insecurity and effects of rising prices

Many citizens and communities across Europe are looking towards establishing their own energy community or energy cooperative, but the process is hindered by bureaucracy and lack of support.

Energy poverty

By strong NECPs millions of people can be lifted out of energy poverty throughout the EU while mitigating the climate crisis.

Considerable measures will  be implemented to tackle energy poverty in some member states such as Bulgaria  (through the Energy Poverty Mechanism), Portugal (through upgrading the Energy Efficiency Vouchers) and Slovenia (through the Energy poverty reduction scheme). 

Considerable measures will  be implemented to tackle energy poverty in some member states such as Bulgaria  (through the Energy Poverty Mechanism), Portugal (through upgrading the Energy Efficiency Vouchers) and Slovenia (through the Energy poverty reduction scheme). 

Just transition

Countries are required to identify the socio-economic impact of their planned measures and should include implications for delivering a just transition.

A strong NECP should describe, and address  distributional impacts, energy poverty and transport poverty. Countries should set out measures that will ensure a fair and just transition, by tackling and mitigating any social and/or employment impacts. More progressive regions should enjoy support and the benefits of just transition as early as possible.

Just transition is often overlooked – as it is the case of France, where the current NECP does not contain a component on financing, particularly with regard to the support for households. A multi-year financing plan for a fair transition is needed.

Public participation

NECPs will affect the livelihoods of all European citizens –  planning these fundamental reforms cannot take place in an ivory tower.

So far, the overwhelming majority of Member States have failed to ensure effective, timely public participation that is required by law. A better public engagement would lead to better environmental decisions. The fact that we did not find good examples in this category is a warning sign in itself.


NECPs should include policies that drive change towards a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous society.

Examples of positive measures related to sufficiency can be found in Hungary where removing the price cap on household energy prices for above-average consumers led to decrease in energy consumption, and Slovenia that plans to shift away from meeting demand to demand management approach in the transport sector.

Policies should enable people to choose a more sustainable, sufficient lifestyle. Countries should not miss the opportunity and set goals and include policies in NECPs to shift consumption patterns.

False solutions

NECPs must bring real transformative change, leaving behind false solutions that proved to be unreliable, misleading and negatively impact people and the planet.

Our compilation shows that the majority of EU governments are still stuck in the past, without vision for deep, transformative change that NECPs could kick off. They must avoid false solutions: Denmark doesn’t want to be locked into biomass and CCS, Slovenia doesn’t want to prioritise unsustainable biofuel use and large hydropower plants, Hungary shouldn’t rely on importing gas and uranium.

Megalomaniac plans for the green hydrogen generation and export

While the RES share in electricity generation is still very modest and Bulgaria has 33% protected territories, the interim government has huge plans for green hydrogen production for...

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CCS fantasy impedes Denmark’s transition

CCS fantasy impedes Denmark’s transition and the upcoming revised NECP should address this issue..

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Hockey stick climate politics

The lack of a carbon budget has Denmark falling behind its climate targets and the updated NECP needs to provide a concrete direction on this...

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Domestic electricity – from import gas and uranium?

Domestically produced electricity will not enhance the rhetorically emphasized energy sovereignty if production needs imported gas and uranium...

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Poland plans to invest heavily in vague SMR nuclear projects

The Polish government announced a plan to reach 23% of nuclear power in 2040, thanks to small modular reactors (SMR). However, such reactors have never been put on operation anywhere worldwide...

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Recarbonization with gas and lignite

Latest measures of the Hungarian Government on favoring lignite and gas use seem to go against NECP 2019, halt decarbonization and enhance recarbonization...

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Further readings

We have to substantially change the way we produce and consume energy, build and renovate buildings, move around, transport goods, handle our waste and produce food. The National Energy and Climate Plans touch upon policies and measures related to almost every aspect of life and economy. To curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5°C limit is an enormous task ahead, that requires an unprecedented level of action – for which NECPs should pave the way.

Power to the ROOFS

National Energy and Climate Plans – explainer

Heat our homes, not our planet

Energy Communities in Central Eastern Europe

Climate solutions BELGIUM