Europe is expected to miss new clean air targets over the next few years.
New T&E analysis finds that the emissions reduction trajectory proposed by the European Commission sets a far too generous emissions budget for 2021-2030.
Weaknesses in the Regulation mean that, by 2030, emissions in the Effort Sharing Regulation sectors would not be cut by -40%, as envisaged by Fit for 55, but by a mere -33%.
Sofie Defour, Climate Manager at T&E, said, “The ESR is meant to be the EU’s safeguard to ensure that member states put in place necessary climate measures. But national targets remain empty shells if not properly implemented and enforced. If the ESR is full of flexibilities and loopholes, member states have an easy way out of their obligations. But the climate does not wait for such opt outs.”
T&E’s new analysis reveals that, with the proposed trajectory, member states would only need to realise 29% of the emissions cuts envisaged by the Commission’ proposal for the 2021-2030 period. Translated to the ESR target for 2030, emissions in the road transport, buildings, agriculture, small industry and waste sector would not be cut by -40% in 2030, but only by -33%.
T&E’s analysis finds two types of flexibilities within the ESR which will prevent the EU from reaching its emissions reduction target. First, the processes of banking, borrowing and trading give room to member states to delay real emission cuts and rely on reductions due to the economic slowdown caused by COVID.
Under the current rules, member states can ‘bank’ their 2021 surpluses with no limit for future years. With this so-called ‘COVID dividend’, countries will be able to bank a surplus the size of the entire Czech Republic’s 2019 emissions, in 2021 alone.
The second, and more worrying type of flexibility, consists of credits that are additional to countries’ allocated emissions budgets. They either come from other sectors outside of the ESR (ETS and LULUCF sectors) or as additional allocations provided under the ESR.
These loopholes undermine the very goal of the regulation which drives emissions reduction in ESR sectors. By injecting additional permits into the ESR emissions budget, it decreases the incentive for member states to design sufficient measures to ensure that the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors are on a path to net-zero.