Are the National Energy and Climate Plans in line with the Paris Agreement?

A new report is published today by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and ZERO, with the contribution of environmental NGOs and think tanks across Europe, examining climate ambition and the role of the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).

The report titled “PAVE THE WAY FOR INCREASED CLIMATE AMBITION: Opportunities and gaps in the final National Energy and Climate Plans” assesses the final NECPs of 15 Member States, submitted in December 2019.

Among the Member States studied in the report, only Greece, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain increased their national climate targets for 2030. But only Denmark with its new goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy by 70% in 2030 compared to 1990, is compatible with the Paris Agreement. As the EU goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is expected to be revised soon from the current 40%, Member States are called upon to adopt much more ambitious climate commitments.

The report also compares the drafts with the final NECPs in terms of Member States’ contributions to the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and energy efficiency targets. The report finds that the Member States’ contributions have slightly improved but not to the levels required to achieve the long term objective of the Paris Agreement. Of the Member States that increased their RES targets, only Greece, Croatia and Estonia exceeded the European Commission’s recommendations in June 2019, setting higher RES targets for 2030, while countries such as Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Hungary and the Czechia set targets lower than the European Commission’s recommendations.

Assessing energy efficiency is hard, without Germany’s NECP, which has yet to be submitted in its final form. Greece is among the countries that commit to the greatest reductions in primary and final energy consumption in relation to both the 2017 and the 2020 targets, while it also appears more ambitious compared to the draft NECP. The same applies for Slovenia and primary energy consumption. Improvements in relation to the drafts are also noted in the final NECPs of Romania, although the final energy consumption in 2030 still exceeds 2017 levels, Portugal, Latvia and Slovenia, Czechia, Estonia, Poland France, Spain, Denmark and Hungary have virtually no improvements compared to their corresponding draft NECPs.

The report is critical of the shortcomings of the NECPs of Member States in relation to the European Commission’s recommendations on the key issue of abolishing fossil fuel subsidies. Spain, Austria, France and Slovenia recognize some such subsidies and present some measures for their gradual abolition. Greece and Hungary, on the other hand, do not even acknowledge the existence of such subsidies, while Poland not only has no plans to abolish them, but mentions that subsidies to the lignite and coal industry will continue.

The report also assesses the Member States’ commitment to a lignite and coal phase out, a field in which Greece, Hungary and Slovakia have made significant progress with their commitments to full phase out by 2028, 2030 and 2023, respectively. However, the fact that in Greece the energy, which, according to the draft NECP would come from lignite by 2030, is to be covered primarily by fossil gas and not by RES in the final NECP, is characterized as negative.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “National Energy and Climate Plans have the potential to prepare the ground for increased climate ambition in Europe and direct investments in the next 10 years for a just and climate neutral recovery to tackle both the climate and economic crises.

The opportunities underlined in this report should serve as A guidance for Member States on where to put their money to achieve climate neutrality and stimulate the economy.”

“Following the important decision to completely phase out lignite, Greece must avoid a dangerous lock in of its energy future in fossil fuels. The front-bearing development of RES and storage infrastructure combined with energy efficiency constitute the only long-term sustainable energy strategy for the country. The generous EU recovery package offers Greece a unique opportunity to implement the necessary investments for the climate, the national economy and quality of life of the citizens,” commented Nikos Mantzaris, Senior Policy Analyst of the Green Tank.       


The full report in English: PAVE THE WAY FOR INCREASED CLIMATE AMBITION : Opportunities and gaps in the final National Energy and Climate Plans.