EU Commission presents national targets and flexible mechanism for 2030 emission goal

On Wednesday (July 20), the European Commission presented a new package of measures, the so-called “Efforts Sharing Regulation”,  aimed at continuing regulation of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU for the sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). As a follow up of the Effort Sharing Regulation for the period 2013-2020, the new framework includes binding national GHG emissions targets between 2021 and 2030, in order to reach the 2030 target agreed in October 2014.

The goal of reducing GHG emissions by 40 percent by 2030, reaffirmed at the European Council meeting in March 2016, requires a 43 percent reduction in the industrial and power sectors under the ETS and a 30 percent reduction in the non-ETS sectors compared to 2005. The non-ETS sectors, including  buildings, agriculture, waste management, and transport, accounted for almost 60 percent of total EU emissions in 2014.

The proposed binding annual GHG reduction targets vary from 0 to 40 percent across different Member States, depending on their size of GDP per capita. According to the European Commission,” [t]his ensures fairness because higher income Member States will take on more ambitious targets than lower income Member States.”

With the aim of reaching the national targets in a cost-effective way, the Commission put forward a proposal for a flexible system which would allow Member States to offset the emissions in the non-ETS sectors. The so-called “flexibilities” options include a one-time allocation of a number of ETS allowances to the non-ETS sector and the access to emissions credits generated by the land use sector.

Integration of emissions from land use into the proposal raised criticism from some environmental NGOs representatives, in fear of driving the 2030 target below 39 percent. Others consider that the proposal might undermine the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, arguing that the proposed starting point for calculating annual reductions creates a loss of 850 million MtCO2-e.


(Image: European flags in front of the Berlaymont building, headquarter of the European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Photo credit: TPCOM/Flickr)