EU Nations urged to address “Planning Gap” for climate targets


European countries are being called to bridge the vast “planning gap” between their climate targets and plans, according to a report from Clean Air Task Force (CATF).

The environmental non-profit organisation analysed that the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) made in 2019 by EU member states are out of date, lack crucial details, and no longer line up with long-term strategies.

This comes as only half of the states have submitted a fresh proposal – two months after the EU deadline for draft plans, which passed this June, and as of mid-September, only 15 of the 27 member states have submitted a draft.

The EU made a promise to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 55 per cent from 1990 levels by the end of the decade and hit net zero emissions by 2050, but a report from the European court of auditors in June found “little indication that actions to achieve 2030 climate and energy targets will be sufficient”.

Alejandra Muñoz Castañer, leader of the report from CATF, said: “Three decades is a very short period to plan, permit, and construct the power system that we need in 2050. Governments have a one-time opportunity to really take their planning endeavours more seriously, which they haven’t done in the past”.

Member states have been urged to use their action plans to support a vast range of clean technologies, give investors clearer signals of where to put their money, and plan cross-border infrastructure, such as electricity pylons and hydrogen pipelines.

Laimonas Noreika, CEO and co-founder of HeavyFinance, commented: “The report acts as an important wake up call, highlighting the need for European countries to better their efforts to meet climate targets, especially as the lag in updating their plans pose a significant challenge in our collective journey towards a more sustainable future.

We have seen an ebb in the likes of carbon credit market confidence, so it is great to see how member states are being encouraged to incorporate a wider spectrum of clean technologies to help send signals to investors of where to put their money, which will in turn help boost investor confidence.

Investing in the R&D and training to accelerate clean technology projects will only present benefits on all fronts, for businesses and the environment alike, and will be crucial to overcoming the hurdles that hinder our transition to a low-carbon economy.

Collaboration between governments and the European Commission is vital in driving meaningful change. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to not only meet, but stay on top of and exceed these goals – and this starts with robust and up-to-date national energy and climate plans.”

A European Commission spokesperson disclosed that they have been working closely with the member states to ensure timely submission of their plans, and will evaluate their plans by the end of this year.

The EU has also overhauled its own climate goals as since the last round of plans, it has raised its 2030 targets for renewable energy from 32 per cent to 42.5 per cent. Energy efficiency improvement goals have been risen from 32.5 per cent to 36 per cent, and carbon removal from land use from 225mtonnes to 310m tonnes.