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EU Risks Missing 2030 Climate Target & Shifting Burden Onto the Poor

As European governments discuss the EU’s 2030 climate plans today, major green groups are warning that the European Commission’s roadmap risks missing emissions targets and shifting the burden onto poorer citizens

Originally published on Transport & Environment.

As European governments discuss the EU’s 2030 climate plans today, major green groups are warning that the European Commission’s roadmap risks missing emissions targets and shifting the burden onto poorer citizens¹². The 7 NGOs, including Greenpeace, WWF, and Transport & Environment, tell President Ursula von der Leyen her proposal to scrap or weaken the law that sets national climate targets and regulates 60% of EU emissions would be a serious mistake.

Last month the Commission said it is considering phasing out the Effort Sharing Regulation, which sets national emissions reduction targets, or removing key sectors from the law’s reach. Currently, the effort sharing law sets binding annual emission reduction targets for each EU country to achieve in the road transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors.

“Walking away” from binding national targets is risky and “unacceptable,” say the NGOs in a letter to President von der Leyen. “It would reduce incentives for effective national measures, undermine support for proven EU-wide policies, delay action in harder to treat sectors and risk serious impacts on poorer citizens.”

If governments were no longer required to bring down emissions in road transport and buildings, those sectors would be included in the bloc’s carbon market. Citizens would have to pay more for their road fuel and heating through higher carbon prices. Lower-income households which cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles and retrofit their homes would be hit the hardest.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, senior director for analysis at T&E, said: “Abandoning national targets would remove the incentive for governments to take national and regional action such as taxing new polluting cars, removing harmful subsidies for fossil-fuelled company cars, or setting up low-emissions zones.”

Dr Bérénice Dupeux, senior policy officer for agriculture at EEB, said: “The European Commission should not scrap the Effort Sharing Regulation but instead reinforce it by setting legally-binding targets at national level to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector. This is the only way we can ensure that national governments comply with the regulation and start the much-needed transition towards a responsible farming system that’s in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal.” 

Sam Van den plas, policy director at Carbon Market Watch, said: “Assuming that the EU carbon market alone can carry a lion’s share of Europe’s climate action is dangerous. Bringing sectors such as buildings and road transport under the carbon market would risk putting the burden on citizens instead of polluting companies and would not significantly cut emissions. It’s unacceptable to propose this as an alternative to binding national climate targets.”

The Commission’s plan could jeopardise even its own insufficient target of “at least” a 55% cut in emissions by 2030, the NGOs said. They called on von der Leyen to reconsider her proposal, and make sure that the ‘effort sharing’ law is preserved and strengthened. Governments should call for national climate targets to be kept and strengthened before the Commission puts legislative proposals on the table next year.

¹ Today (26 November) an informal working party on the environment in the Council of the EU will discuss additional emission reductions in the sectors outside the emissions trading system (non-ETS).

² The Commission recently published a so-called “Inception Impact Assessment” where it outlines three options to review the current Effort Sharing Regulation. All three options propose repealing or seriously weakening the national climate targets. The public consultation for the Inception Impact Assessment closed on 26 November.

Related: National emissions reduction targets (Effort Sharing Regulation) – review based on 2030 climate target plan

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