Belgium

Belgium

Geopolitical Informations

Capital
Brussels
Population
11.18 million (2013)
Total area
30,528 km2

Main legislative bodies

  • Federal Bicameral Parliament

Latest News

SPECIAL COP23: the Bula spirit makes progress on Paris Agreement implementation

The 23rd session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties concluded its works on the early morning of Saturday 18th November, after that delegates read more...

SPECIAL COP23: Powering Past Coal Alliance puts pressure on major coal consumers

The UK and Canada have launched the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” at COP23 in Bonn. The coalition unites a number of governments, businesses and read more...

SPECIAL COP23: High-level segment to step up last days’ efforts in Bonn

The high-level segment of the Bonn Climate Change Conference opened its works yesterday afternoon (Nov. 15th) with an official event at the presence of read more...

Climate Policy Facts

Emissions

Year Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)
1990 132.4 13.28 437.94
1991 138.04 13.8 448.38
1992 137.59 13.7 440.17
1993 135.03 13.39 436.18
1994 141.29 13.97 442.13
1995 141.07 13.92 431.15
1996 146.7 14.44 442.06
1997 143.77 14.12 417.63
1998 145.46 14.26 414.56
1999 141.81 13.87 390.32
2000 142.71 13.92 378.9
2001 143.25 13.93 377.28
2002 135.24 13.09 351.43
2003 142.13 13.7 366.35
2004 138.64 13.3 346.04
2005 134.51 12.84 329.94
2006 131.82 12.5 314.95
2007 128.46 12.09 298.31
2008 132.29 12.35 304.23
2009 123.12 11.4 291.3
2010 129.86 11.92 300.26
2011 130.62 11.82 296.78

The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.

 

Energy

Energy Source Production (ktoe) TPES (ktoe)
Coal 0 2568,537
Oil 0 21956,08
Natural gas 0 14194,446
Nuclear 11113,285 11113,285
Hydro 31,046 31,046
Geothermal 4,298 4,298
Solar thermal 15,307 15,307
Solar photovoltaics 209,496 209,496
Tide, wave, ocean 0 0
Wind 312,954 312,954
Biomass 1263,419 1784,624
Biofuels 588,355 517,612
Waste 312,954 312,954

The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.

The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.

Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.

Energy data refers to year 2013.

National Policy

National policy

Climate legislation in Belgium is characterized by a strong regional influence, through which the three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels-Capital) are the most prominent figures in energy and climate change policy. However, political fragmentation and lack of clarity in division of competences and responsibilities between the federal and the regional governments has often caused inconsistencies in the national climate legislation.

Belgium’s targets set under the European 2020 framework include a 15 percent GHG emission reduction by 2020 compared to 2005 levels; a 13 percent share of non-ETS sectors final energy consumption from renewable energy (RE) by 2020; an improvement in energy efficiency (EE) reaching a primary energy consumption of no more than 43.7 Mtoe by 2020, which means a 18 percent reduction versus 2007 levels.

Climate and energy targets have been set at the sub-national level rather than at the federal level. Due to the little coordination between the regions, these targets vary significantly among each other. Whether the aggregation of the targets is in line with the figures required by the EU has not been assessed.

The main issues related to climate and energy policy in the country concern the relatively high energy intensity and GHG emissions per capita, and the high emissions generated by the transport sector. Energy consumption is particularly inefficient in the industry and housing sector, while transportation sees a very high number of passenger-kilometers travelled.

 

Climate change

National Climate Plan 2009-2012 (2008)

The National Climate Plan 2009-2012 represents the main document for climate change policy at the national level. The country’s climate strategy is structured in 11 pillars: energy production optimization; efficient use of energy; industrial sector initiative; development of sustainable transport; prioritization of sustainable management of agricultural and forest ecosystems; continued efforts in waste management; increased climate change research; awareness-rising on climate change mitigation options; increased direct initiative of public authorities in reducing GHG emissions; use of flexibility mechanisms; integration of the climate dimension into development policy.

A National Climate Commission is established for monitoring and evaluation purposes. The Commission is working to extend the plan until 2020, but this proved to be a lengthy process due to political conflicts about the issue of burden sharing among the regions.

Document available in pdf format (in French): Belgium_National Climate Plan 2009-2012 (2008)

Special Act to reform the finance of the Communities and the Regions (2014)

The Act introduces a mechanism to incentivize climate action at the sub-national level. Regions and communities are assigned GHG emissions reduction targets for the residential and tertiary building (excluding industrial building) sectors. A financial bonus-malus system awards governments that exceed their targets and penalizes laggards. The distribution of emission quotas is still to be made due to the current political deadlock.

Document available in pdf format (in French and Dutch): Belgium_Special Act to reform the finance of the Communities and the Regions (2014)

Walloon Climate Decree (2014)

The Climate Decree sets the target to reduce GHG emissions in Wallonia by 30 percent by 2020 and by 80-95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, and introduces measures to cut carbon emissions accordingly. The provision defines emission budgets specifying total carbon emissions that can be emitted by a specific sector or for a certain time period, thereby operating as mid-term goals. Moreover, a plan (Air-Climate-Energy Plan) outlining the instruments for implementation is to be submitted every year.

Document available in pdf format (in French): Belgium_Walloon Climate Decree (2014)

Flemish Climate Policy Plan 2013-2020 (2013)

The main target set in this Plan is to reduce non-ETS emissions in Flanders by 15 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. The document comprises an overall framework and two separate sections illustrating adaptation and mitigation plans.

Document summary available in pdf format: Belgium_Flemish Climate Policy Plan 2013-2020 (2013)

Brussels Code for Air, Climate and Energy (2013)

The Code has the objectives of implementing European legislation into the Brussels-Capital region through a comprehensive approach and providing a legal framework for further policy instruments by setting the goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. An Air-Climate-Energy Plan is issued every five years to support the attainment of these goals.

Document available in pdf format (in French and Dutch): Belgium_Brussels Code for Air, Climate and Energy (2013)

 

Adaptation

National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2010)

The National Climate Commission, responsible for national level climate change policy, adopted the Belgian National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in December 2010. The current adaptation strategy follows the National Climate Plan 2009-2012 (see above), which also contained a section on adaptation. The National Adaptation Strategy describes the main climate change impacts and presents adaptation actions on a sectoral level, then outlines a roadmap to a future national climate change adaptation plan. The sectors covered in the strategy include: health; tourism; agriculture; forestry; biodiversity, ecosystems and water; coastal, marine, and tidal areas; and production systems and physical infrastructure. Intersectoral adaptation actions for research and international cooperation are also covered.

The National Adaptation Strategy was developed at the national level by a working group containing representatives from the 4 levels of government in Belgium. The future national adaptation plan will be based on a bottom up approach to provide a national plan aimed at providing clear and concise information on adaptation policies and their implementation, and identifying national adaptation measures that will strengthen cooperation and develop synergies between the various levels of government and regions.

Document available in pdf format: Belgium_National Adaptation Strategy (2010)

 

Energy

The government’s priorities in the field of energy policy are to increase competition and transparency in the gas and electricity market, to phase out nuclear energy, to secure and diversify energy sources, and to adopt climate change mitigation measures.

Act on the Organization of the Electricity Market (1999, last amended 2014)

The law, known as the Electricity Act, provides the basic legal framework for regulating the electricity market. The provision spurs market liberalization and ensures competitiveness through different measures, including the unbundling of electricity transmission and distribution into separate legal entities, ensuring third-party access to the grid, and providing extensive regulation for the market. It determines a division in responsibilities between the federal state and the regions, the former managing the transmission lines (>70 kV), the latter in charge of the distribution network (<70 kV). Besides ensuring grid access, renewable energy producers are supported through financial incentives such as feed-in tariffs and green certificates. CREG (the Commission for Regulation of Electricity and Gas) is the body responsible for market regulation and price setting. More recent provisions require Transmission System Operators (TSOs) to buy RE electricity at a guaranteed minimum price for 10 years.

In addition to the Green Certification Scheme (see below), a range of regional financial measures ensure the development of renewable energy in the electricity market. The measures vary between the region, and include subsidies for specific energy sources, net-metering schemes, investment assistance for companies or for public bodies.

Document available in pdf format (Dutch and French): Belgium_Act on the Organization of the Electricity Market (1999)

National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) (2014)

The 2014 NEEAP is the third energy efficiency plan elaborated in accordance with the EU regulation. It lists EE measures that are implemented at the federal and regional level and makes an assessment of energy savings achieved in this manner. Information campaigns, minimum buildings standards and implementation of EU provisions are part of the measures carried out by federal state. Regions have seen their responsibility over these matters expand over the last years and introduced instruments such as buildings standards (Flemish Energy Renovation Programme 2020), zero-interest loans (Walloon Ecopack, 2012), subsidies for energy efficiency (Brussel-Capital’s Energy Bonus 2013).

Document available in pdf format: Belgium_National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (2014)

Act on the Progressive Phase-out of Nuclear Energy (2003, last amended 2013)

The Act establishes a regulation for the gradual removal of nuclear energy from the country’s electricity mix. It introduces a prohibition to build new nuclear plants and sets an operation period limit of 40 year for existing plants. In 2013 the provision was amended to postpone the final shutdown to 2025. In exchange for the postponement, operators that are benefitting from the extended operating time must pay a tax that provides further financing to the Green Certificate Scheme (see below).

Document available in pdf format (Dutch and French): Belgium_Act on the Progressive Phase-out of Nuclear Energy (2003)

National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) (2010)

In line with EU regulation, the NREAP delineates a pathway for the attainment to the national 2020 targets. An overall RE target of 13 percent of gross final energy consumption by 2020 includes RE sub-targets in heating and cooling (12 percent of consumption), electricity (21 percent of demand) and transport (10 percent of demand). A number of measures implemented in the country are listed as part of the strategy to reach these targets.

Document available in pdf format: Belgium_National Renewable Energy Action Plan (2010)

Federal Sustainable Development Plan (last updated 2004)

The Federal Sustainable Development Plans, regulated by the Act on Co-ordination of Federal Policy on Sustainable Development (1999), define specific coordination measures between the regions on a series of sustainable development topics. These comprise: limiting climate change, using natural resources responsibly, strengthening public transport and developing alternative means of transportation, setting fair energy prices, promoting energy efficiency in buildings. The last Plan, covering 2004-2008, was prolonged due to political inaction.

Document available in pdf format (French): Belgium_Federal Sustainable Development Plan 2004-2008 (2004)

Green Certification Scheme (2002)

Established in 2002 through the Act on the Introduction of Mechanisms Promoting Renewable Electricity Generation, this scheme introduces a quota system requiring energy suppliers to meet a share of their energy generation with renewable electricity. The required quota can be reached through the purchase of tradable green certificates. The federal scheme, regulated by CREG, covers only offshore wind and hydro, whereas all the other RE sources are regulated at the regional level. The three regions have their own green certificate systems, which present differences among each other. Apart from the exception of offshore wind energy, which is under federal competence, it is not possible to trade green certificates among regions. Minimum prices for the purchase of green certificates are also set by law in relation to the type of energy source.

Document available in pdf format (Dutch and French): Belgium_Act on the Introduction of Mechanisms Promoting Renewable Electricity Generation (2002)

 

AFOLU

Walloon Agricultural Code (2014)

The document elaborates a strategy for encouraging the growth of the share of organic farming in terms of number of farms (from 1100 to 1750 by 2020) and agricultural area (from 7,5 percent to 15 percent of the total agricultural land by 2020).

Document available in pdf format (in French): Belgium_Walloon Agricultural Code (2014)

Flemish Agricultural Investment Fund (VLIF) (2012)

Through this fund subsidies are given to agricultural companies investing in clean technology and energy efficiency improvements. The scheme does not include a strategy for making agriculture more sustainable, which is however comprised in the Flemish Climate Plan 2013-2020 (see above).

More information available on the website of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (in Dutch)

 

Transport

Due to the fact that transportation a sector that produces a significant share of Belgium’s total emissions, numerous initiatives at the federal and regional level seek to reduce the constant growth in emissions generated from transport. These include the shift from road to rail and boat transport, improvement of the public transportation system and information campaigns. Tax incentives to low-carbon transportation are set at the regional level and operate in the form of registration taxes that penalize high-emitting vehicles, whereas a distance-based toll system for vehicles above 3.5 tonnes is under implementation. At the federal level, the Act on Biofuel Blending Obligation (2009) sets compulsory blending quotas for biofuels in petrol or diesel oil.

 

Waste

Belgium has already reached the waste recycling goals set out by European legislation managing to divert to a large extent waste from landfill to recycling. Although the country’s overall waste management performance is high, there are significant differences among the regions, with Flanders outperforming Wallonia and Brussels-Capital.

Brussels-Capital Waste Prevention and Management Plan (2010)

The plan includes targets to reduce waste generation from households, industry and the tertiary sector, defining annual reduction target volumes. It also sets priority on communication campaigns, waste legislation and infrastructure.

Document available in pdf format (in French): Belgium_Brussels-Capital Waste Prevention and Management Plan (2010)

Flemish 2008-2015 Household Waste Management Plan (2008)

Objectives of his plan are to limit waste production per annum per capita to 560 kg and residual waste to 150 kg, and to achieve more environmentally beneficial consumption.

Document available in pdf format (in Dutch): Belgium_Flemish 2008-2015 Household Waste Management Plan (2008)

Walloon Waste Management Plan Horizon 2010 (1998)

The update and revision of this plan, covering waste prevention and elimination in Wallonia, has not been accomplished yet, since the long announced Waste Management Plan Horizon 2020 is still under preparation.

Document available in pdf format (in French): Belgium_Walloon Waste Management Plan Horizon 2010 (1998)

References

Belgium’s profile at the IEA website

Belgium Country Profile from the 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study (pdf)

Belgium Country Profile from the EEA (2014) (pdf)

International Policy

General features

  • Party to the UNFCCC (Annex-I):

Date of signature: 4 June 1992
Date of ratification: 16 January 1996
Date of entry into force: 15 April 1996

  • Party to the Kyoto Protocol (target: 7,5 percent burden-sharing reduction between 2008 and 2012 from 1990 levels)

Date of signature: 29 April 1998
Date of ratification: 31 May 2002
Date of entry into force: 16 February 2005

  • Signatory of the Copenhagen Accord

As a EU Member State and Annex-I party to the Kyoto Protocol, the country participates in the EU ETS, the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation mechanism. According to a study by IEEP (pdf), Belgium’s contribution to international climate finance accounted for some € 50 million per annum during 2010-2012, and is estimated to lie somewhere between € 97 million per annum and € 411 million per annum by 2020.

 

Negotiating position

Being part of the EU, Belgium follows the last’s position in the UNFCCC climate negotiations.