Only 11 EU countries have produced strategies on reducing carbon emissions to 2050 - and they need improving, WWF’s Imke Lübbeke told participants at a project event on 17 March.Read More
"The top three 2050 strategies were those of France, Germany and the UK," - Oliver Sartor explains IDDRI's recent report.Read More
Watch the recording of the MaxiMiseR round-table on Energy Union governance and 2050 low-carbon strategies.Read More
The EU’s “flagship climate instrument” is up for vote in the European Parliament on 15 February.
The European Commission has proposed a reform of the EU carbon market cap-and-trade scheme - the Emissions Trading System (ETS) which would take effect in 2021.
The ETS needs reforming because there are too many carbon pollution permits available, meaning it doesn’t cost much to pollute. Many are also given out, so a lot of carbon is still emitted for free.
This means Member States get far less money from auctioning of allowances than they should - €120 billion more in revenues is possible if the ETS reform is a strong one, MaxiMiseR showed in December! If this money is then earmarked by Member States for climate action, investments in renewables and energy efficiency would shoot up.
In December, MEPs on the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted through a report which proposes measures that could help fix the ETS - including requiring all revenues to go to climate action, as recommended by MaxiMiseR.
On 15 February, WWF and its MaxiMiseR project are asking MEPs to show the climate some love by voting YES to the Environment Committee’s report. They should also ensure that emissions reductions are measured starting from real emissions levels not target levels in 2021, since real emissions will be lower by then than the targets require.
While Member States broadly support long-term climate planning, they mostly do not think increased EU policy ambition is needed, the MaxiMiseR survey results reveal.
Nine Member States responded to the survey - a 32% response rate, so not enough to draw overall conclusions on EU Member States as a whole. However, eight out of the nine support 2050 climate plans, which are currently known as Low-Carbon Development Strategies under EU law.
However while they may consider long-term planning important, they did not have a very high opinion of their national plans - three of the nine Member States stated that their LCDS is not high quality, with a further two saying said they do not yet have an LCDS.
The majority of respondents said they were satisfied with current levels of EU ambition on climate policy, with seven of the nine saying the 2050 EU benchmark of 80-95% emissions reductions on 1990 levels is a good benchmark.
Member States were also asked about ETS auctioning revenues. Eight out of nine Member States agreed that using revenues to finance climate policies can help to enhance public support for climate action. Nonetheless, many of them put their revenues into their national budget rather than earmarking them for climate action.
However a low carbon price - which means lower revenues for Member States - is seen to be a problem. Three respondents said this would have an impact on their funding for climate-related projects.
The questionnaire was anonymous; the full results can be seen here.
The MaxiMiseR project is currently comparing and assessing EU countries' LCDS and will publish the scorecards soon. You can find out how we are evaluating them and the criteria we are measuring here.
A new year is always a chance to reflect on what has gone past, and what is to come.
The US elections may have cast a shadow over the end of 2016 - at least in climate activists’ eyes - and continued rising temperatures and global warming-related extreme weather events are causing ever more havoc far and wide. However last year also brought much good news for the planet, from the entry into force of the Paris Agreement and a Marrakech summit which took steps towards assuring its implementation, to renewable energy going from strength to strength as costs fell further than ever.
In terms of the focus of the MaxiMiseR project, long-term climate plans, 2017 has started strongly, with France submitting its 2050 strategy to the UN, the fifth country to do so after Canada, Germany, Mexico and the US at the end of last year. Hopefully this is a signal of increasing momentum and greater forward-thinking on climate internationally, and we will see more of such plans in the coming weeks and months.
However, while having a long-term plan may tick a box, it will not make much difference to tackling climate change unless that plan is good. For MaxiMiseR, a good long-term plan is ambitious, credible and enforceable. A good long-term plan is developed transparently and in a way that includes civil society.
So, how good are EU countries’ low-carbon development strategies? This is what the MaxiMiseR project is currently assessing. It is analysing all of the plans submitted so far, and it will give each one a score and make recommendations on how the plan can be improved.
We will publish our final report and overview in the new few weeks - keep an eye on @MaxiMiseREU to stay up-to-date!
EU countries could receive up to €120 billion more for climate action through a strengthened Emissions Trading System (ETS) reform, WWF research reveals.
As MEPs prepare to vote on the reform proposal this week, the new webtool and report commissioned from the Ecologic Institute by the EU LIFE-funded Maximiser project show the impact their decisions can have on auctioning revenues and climate finance.
Under the European Commission’s proposal, polluting industries would still get free emissions allowances. But moving to full auctioning would generate much greater revenues for Member States, who should then be required to spend 100% of these revenues on renewables, energy efficiency and climate finance.
“For well over a decade the EU ETS has failed to achieve adequate emission reductions due to an ineffective carbon price signal. Real change is needed now for it to deliver climate benefits and become a crucial source of financing for the transition to a zero carbon Europe by 2050,” said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office.
“We need to cut carbon pollution far quicker in order to be in line with the Paris Agreement. But EU policymakers are considering giving mega-bonuses in the form of free allowances to polluting industries, instead of using pollution pricing to help reach a cleaner, safer planet! This is utterly surreal. We urge MEPs and Member States to fix the ETS and help maximise benefits for the climate,” said Sam van den Plas, WWF climate policy officer.
The Maximiser project, delivered by WWF’s European Policy Office, finds that EU countries spent 85% of their ETS revenues on climate action from 2013-2015 - nearly €10 billion. While considerably higher than the 50% envisaged by the ETS directive, more revenues can be generated - and used more smartly for the climate - by:
- Removing more surplus allowances from the market every year
- Phasing out free emissions allowances over time and moving to 100% auctioning
- Making sure EU countries spend 100% of their revenues on climate action.
Furthermore, just 9% of ETS auctioning revenues in 2013-2015 went to international climate action, according to Member States’ reports.
“It’s high time the EU took its international climate finance commitments seriously. A new EU international climate finance fund should be set up, funded by ETS auctioning revenues, to support developing countries in tackling climate change and its impacts. This would be a step towards the EU’s fair share of the $100 billion per year pledged by developed countries in Paris,” added Lübbeke.
The Maximiser project also calls for better templates for the reporting of ETS revenue spending, and regular quality checks by the European Commission, to ensure transparent and accessible information.
- Check out the interactive webtool - it contains ETS revenue and spending data for each Member State
- Download the infographic
- See the ‘Smart Cash for the Climate’ summary report
- See the ‘Smart Cash for the Climate’ full report
The first international climate summit since the Paris Agreement was signed came to an end recently to cautiously positive reviews.
One of the most notable areas in which progress was made at the COP22 summit in Marrakech was that of long-term planning, which saw a welcome flurry of activity!
A ‘long-term strategies’ platform was launched by Laurence Tubiana of France and Hakima El Haite of Morocco along with various countries, cities and regions in order to “support those seeking to devise long-term, net zero-greenhouse gas, climate-resilient and sustainable development pathways”.
Over the same time period, Germany was the first EU country to launch its ‘2050 climate plan’ - which it did at the same time as Canada, the US and Mexico. While the fact that Germany has a long-term plan is good, its contents were generally perceived by campaigners as a mixed bag.
“It’s good to see the government realises the importance of looking ahead on climate, and great that for the first time our 2030 target - 55% emissions cuts - has been divided by sector. This will stop the ‘after you’ mentality which has prevailed so far!’ said Viviane Raddatz from WWF’s German office.
“However, long-term planning shouldn’t come at the expense of short-term action, and this plan doesn’t contain any of the concrete measures, like a rapid coal phase-out, which are crucial to meet Germany’s 2030 target, let alone contribute to the need for EU decarbonisation by 2050”.
A climate plan presented this year showed Germany was falling short on its 2020 emissions target. The only way to get back on track in time, Raddatz says, is to shut down Germany’s coal plants by 2025.
“The same recommendations on needing real measures to reduce emissions came up time and again when the government consulted civil society on the plan,” points out Raddatz. “What good is engaging with civil society if you then ignore everything it says?”
She points out as another example that earlier versions of the plan contained strong language on moving to electric cars by 2030, which were then gone from the final document.
German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the plan represented “a very good and well-balanced solution”.
The 2050 climate plan will not be a law but will become part of the government’s energy transition strategy and will be reviewed every year.
Trade unions in industrial regions of Europe see long-term climate planning as key to a just transition to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds.
“Open and transparent long-term climate plans in which workers and employers have a say are crucial for sustainable jobs and industry. Such plans are widely supported by trade unions”, said Benjamin Denis of the European Trade Union Confederation, which launched the project report.
“This need for good planning applies both to the regional level - as this report shows - and to the national level. This is why a project like MaxiMiseR, which aims to improve Member States’ long-term climate plans, is so crucial”, added Denis, who is part of the project’s External Reference Group.
The report, entitled ‘Industrial regions and climate policies: towards a just transition’ also highlights the importance of tackling the social impacts of decarbonisation investment in skills and the need for the EU to accelerate the deployment of breakthrough low-carbon technologies.
The report summarises the findings of a two-year EU funded project which brought together trade unionists in seven regions across the EU: Humberside and Yorkshire (UK), North Rhine Westphalia (Germany), Asturias (Spain), Antwerp (Belgium), Norrbotten (Sweden), Stara Zagora (Bulgaria) and Silesia (Poland). It was launched at an event marking the close of a two-year EU-funded project
The MaxiMiseR project will provide guidance to Member States on the Low-Carbon Development Strategies they are required to provide and update every two years under the EU’s ‘Monitoring Mechanism Regulation’.
Immediate action is crucial in tackling climate change, but so is long-term thinking.
Long-term climate plans show countries will continue to move in the right direction. This encourages greater ambition, allows better planning, creates trust between better off and less wealthy countries, and boosts certainty and stability for investors and low-carbon industries.
And most importantly, it means we will carry on tackling global warming and its terrible impacts!
Back in 2010, industrialised countries - including the EU - committed to producing climate plans known as ‘low-carbon development strategies’ (LCDS). They said they would report on them every two years.
EU countries submitted their low-carbon strategies to the European Commission in 2015. They should report on progress and present any updates in 2017.
The EU-funded ‘MaxiMiseR’ project, run by the WWF European Policy Office, aims to help countries make their LCDS as effective as possible. To be effective, long-term plans must be ambitious, credible, based on the latest science and developed in a transparent and open way. They will need to uphold the Paris Agreement, in which all countries agreed to limit global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius, and pursue efforts to keep it under 1.5 degrees.
A tool being developed by the MaxiMiseR project will evaluate the national long- term plans - known as ‘low-carbon development strategies’ (LCDS) - and allow EU Member States to share knowledge and best practise in order to improve the LCDS.
In parallel, the ‘MaxiMiseR’ project will analyse how auctioning revenues from the EU’s Emissions Trading System can better support the implementation of the LCDS. It will focus on the financing of renewable energy and energy savings technology.
The two and a half year project, which runs until mid-2018, is being implemented by WWF’s European Policy Office with the support of a range of stakeholders. It is funded by the EU LIFE Programme for the Environment and the MAVA Foundation