Rewards For Countries Who Will Miss Their 2020 Target Of Cutting Emissions

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Smog by Isengardt via Flikr

The proposal by the European Commission which aims to reduce emissions outside the Emission Trading Scheme post-2020 risks rewarding countries who are not on target or who are delayed in reaching their current binding target for 2020. 

The new briefing ‘No cheating from the start’ published by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe today shows that opting for a more ambitious approach would cut greenhouse gases by at least 850 million tonnes – more than the 2014 emissions of Germany and France combined.

Reducing emissions from road transport, agriculture, waste and buildings is governed by a carbon budget based instrument currently called the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD). The European Commission is scheduled to present a proposal regulating emissions in these sectors after 2020 on 20th July. For the total amount of polluting carbon these sectors will be allowed to emit after 2020, the starting point is as important as the binding national target.

There is a risk that, based on the current rules, the Commission will decide to set the starting point at the average emissions level for 2016-2018. This is a positive effort to take into account that many countries will overshoot their 2020 target. At the same time however, this would reward Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg, who are not on track to reach their 2020 targets, as their starting point for emission reductions would be then higher than their target in 2020.

The Commission’s proposal is also likely to benefit countries whose average emissions in 2016-2018 are projected to be higher than their 2020 target, namely Denmark, Finland, Germany and the UK. These countries will be discouraged from making further efforts to reach their 2020 targets. The eight countries together represent almost 40% of the non-ETS emissions, so setting a starting level that is weaker than their 2020 target would also have a substantial impact on total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

“Rewarding countries for not reaching their targets is not acceptable” – Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe said. “It would contradict the Commission’s efforts to get countries to abide by the EU rules.”

It will be essential for the EU’s contribution to the Paris Agreement that for each country the starting point is set as ambitiously as possible.

In a briefing published today, CAN Europe presents two solutions that have been proposed to overcome this major failure by the French and German governments. The briefing states that the starting point should be based on a linear trajectory from their 2016-2018 average emissions, while for the few countries that will fail to reach their 2020 target, a linear trajectory from their 2020 target should be used. Choosing this option will reduce the EU’s carbon budget by at least 850 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, as compared with the option the Commission is likely to propose. This is more than the 2014 emissions of Germany and France combined.