2030 NECPs and the Green Deal

Written by Łukasz Kohut on 9 March 2020 in Opinion
Opinion

Member State National Energy and Climate Plans to 2030 will inevitably shape the European Green Deal, but it is vital that they are analysed to allow the appropriate degree of convergence.

Łukasz Kohut | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


The European Union Green Deal did not start with the European Commission presenting its Communication on 11 December 2019.

The political momentum began far earlier, through the work of ecological-oriented political parties formed in the early 1970s, green activism and think tanks such as the Green New Deal group, which has been grouping economists active in this area since 2007.

Legally, the Green Deal really started with the climate policies that the EU has been developing since 1990, introducing common measures for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency.


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One of the latest, and, in my opinion, rather underestimated acts of EU activity in the area, is the ‘Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action Regulation’. This was proposed as part of the Winter Energy Package announced by the Commission in November 2016.

When finally adopted two years later, it provided the basis for obliging each Member State to prepare an integrated national energy and climate plan (NECP) covering the 2021-2030 period.

Member States submitted their draft 2030 NECPs at the end of 2018 and their finalised versions at the end of last year.

Some of the main goals of the Regulation are frequently discussed, as they are clear and obvious. These include – in short - ensuring compliance with the Paris Agreement in the 2021-2030 period as well as providing for proper reporting on that basis.

Yet there are also two goals which, in my view, remain absent from the debate; yet it is actually those that could decide the success – or not - of the European Green Deal.

These goals are designed to stimulate cooperation between Member States, including at regional level, where appropriate, to achieve the objectives and targets of the Energy Union; to contribute to greater regulatory certainty and to greater investor certainty and to help take full advantage of opportunities for economic development, investment stimulation, job creation and social cohesion.

“The Green Deal really started with the climate policies that the EU has been developing since 1990”

Currently, it is evident how the 2030 NECPs will affect the European Green Deal in terms of compliance with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which the former is designed to ensure.

Should the 2021-2030 period turn out to be a lost opportunity, with Member States’ national plans failing the Paris Agreement 2030 targets, the whole concept of transition to climate neutrality by 2050 could well become questionable.

More subtle however, is the nature of interaction between the successes of the European Green Deal and 2030 NECPs in terms of stimulating cooperation between Member States and their regions.

This will play a role in ensuring greater investor certainty and in capitalising on economic development in the area of social cohesion.

It is my deepest conviction that, in order for 2030 NECPs to have the effect envisaged, they need to be analysed and considered in a holistic way, as parts of the same energy and climate case as those of the EU.

It is of course reasonable that some goals, for example annual greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States for the periods 2021–2030, are set individually, given various starting points of particular member states.

However, if the Green Deal project is to succeed, we must, at the end of the process, also analyse and seek convergence between states and regions. It is crucial to underline we seek convergence, not sameness.

With that in mind, at the end of December last year I asked the Council, two important questions. The first was precisely on the issue of convergence - I asked if the Council is planning to discuss what degree of convergence there should be between individual NECPs, in particular in the case of the beneficiary regions of the Just Transition Fund.

Regions such as mine – Silesia - are very interested in the answer to that question. After all, the amount of funds allocated to them might well be connected with this factor.

My second question is on the role of 2030 NECPs in operationalising the various instruments of the Green Deal. Exactly what role will they play? Will Member States consider the 2030 NECPs when negotiating these instruments?

It would seem imperative that they do so, to ensure they are appropriate to the needs of respective Member States. Having asked these as “priority questions”, the answers should have arrived by now; regretfully, they have not.

Therefore, perhaps it would be a good idea to place the subject on the ITRE agenda and hold an in-depth discussion on it in the European Parliament.

About the author

Łukasz Kohut (PL, S&D) is a member of Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy committee

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