Making the grade?
In 2018, the EU agreed on the ‘Clean Energy Package’, setting a new framework for climate and energy until 2030. Within this new set-up, Member States must develop by 2019 a national energy and climate plan (NECP). The process will serve as a planning tool for the next ten years during which Member States must name their own targets for 2030 within the framework of the EU’s Long Term Strategy for 2050. The NECP should explain what measures a Member State will take in order to contribute to the EU’s 2030 targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction and a phase out of fossil fuels, and at the same time quantify the investments needed to reach these objectives.
As such the NECPs should be the first step in planning the transformation to a low-carbon economy in every EU Member State. The next decade is the one where major efforts on climate protection are needed if we are to avoid the worst of a changing planet. The magnitude of change required due to our ever-shrinking carbon budget means that a transformation is needed immediately.
🇦 Early publication / TransparencyDraft available to the public in September 2018, with reasonable time for comments.
🇧 Independent review of the NECPsDiscussions among inter-institutional expert groups and parliamentarians with the participation of social partners
🇧 Public consultationSeveral public hearings and presentations of NECPs to regional and local stakeholders, SEA process will be done but not in parallel with the NECP development
🇧- Target on EEMassive compulsory savings until 2030, lower energy intensity
🇧 Target on RES45% in final (40% for 2020)
🇨+ FF phase-outNo definite goals to phase out natural gas, only decrease its use in the mix
🇨+ Investment needsMainly EU funds-based, thus not concrete yet, as national level planning has not really begun
🇨 Early publication / TransparencyDraft only available in December, shortly before being submitted to EC
🇨 Independent review of the NECPsGovernmental task-force only composed of ministries and state-actors, no SEA foreseen
🇨 Public consultationFeedback by email, no actual stakeholder meeting
🇧 Target on EETarget in line with 2030 EU objectives, lacks concrete plan
🇨 Target on RESUnambitious 2030 target compared to 2020
🇨- FF phase-outOnly very slow decrease of coal
🇧- Investment needsEstimation and measures such as a dedicated fund for EE, but no figures
Much-needed move away from oil undercut by dubious claims of biomass benefits
🇦 Early publication / TransparencyPublished in September 2018 months before submission to the Commission
🇨- Independent review of the NECPsClosed door review
🇨 Public consultationEarly public consultation with public meetings but unclear if CSO comments will have any impact
🇨 Target on EE10% between 2012 and 2030 only, low ambition for one of the most energy intensive economy of EU
🇧- Target on RES42% overall target, but in the transport sector measures and biomass sustainability are of concern
🇩 FF phase-outPlans for new oil shale mine and pit production
🇩 Investment needsExplore shale oil investments as long as possible
Little ambition on climate and energy targets and next to no public consultation
🇨 Early publication / TransparencyPublished end 2018 with ten days during to comment.
Draft publication not officially announced.
🇨 Independent review of the NECPsExpert group from EE and RES associations but no real effect. No SEA foreseen
🇨 Public consultationComments discussed in March, NGOs not invited.
🇧 Target on EELowest efficiency gain possible, could be twice as high.
🇨 Target on RESTarget cleary not ambitious enough.
🇩 FF phase-outNo plan for the phase-out of fossil fuels nor any hint in such a direction.
🇧 Investment needsInvestment needs for the whole NECP left for the final version.
No follow up on a coal phase and unambitious renewables and efficiency targets
🇩 Early publication / TransparencySent to the European Commission in December 2018, published officially only 1 month later
🇧 Independent review of the NECPsThe government is foreseeing a SEA but timeline is not clear
🇨 Public consultationStakeholders were allowed meetings only a few weeks after the draft was sent.
🇧+ Energy efficiencyLower ambitions than Slovakia confirmed by signing the Paris Agreement.
🇨+ Renewable energy sourcesUnambitious target; sustainability criteria mentioned only for biofuels.
🇩- Fossil fuels phase-outVery weak on a coal phase-out and uses outdated information
🇩 Investment needsNo mention of it
🇩 Early publication/ TransparencyDraft NECP and annexes are not yet published on the HU government website
🇧 Independent review of the NECPsAssessment of impacts is planned as part of SEA but not in parallel with drafting of the NECP
🇨 Public consultationSEA process is planned but timeline and chances to influence the content of HU NECP is not yet clear
🇨 Target on EENo ambitious target (relative 8-10% target is very weak) and no recognition of energy poverty
🇨 Target on RES20 per cent target. A viable RES target of 6000 MW photovoltaic but without grid-related investments and plans for facilitating prosumers
🇨 FF phase-outCoal phase out is on the political agenda but not reflected yet properly with measures in the NECP. No recognition of existing fossil fuels subsidies is a scam
🇩 Investment needsNo assessment of transformative measures, nuclear investments proposed as solutions
🇨 Early publication/ TransparencyPublished in the same time when sent to EC, no Annexes
🇧- Independent review of the NECPsSEA planned only second half of 2018
🇨 Public consultationConsultation behind closed door so far, long deadline for submission of comments but no clarity
🇨 Target on EENot ambitious target, EE for addressing energy poverty is not considered
🇨 Target on RESNo increase of RES in energy production in next decade
🇩 FF phase-outNo plan for coal phase out and plans for expansion of gas lock in
🇩 Investment needsNot assessed
🇨 Early publication / TransparencyPublished on 15 January 2019, after it had been submitted to the Commission
🇨- Independent review of the NECPsNo SEA or any other expert review, no multi-level dialogue with stakeholders prior to submission, consultations conducted after submission, unclear how comments will be taken into account.
🇨- Public consultationNECP drafted without a wide participatory process, only actors involved in the drafting were government ministries and agencies
🇨 Target on EELow target (23 per cent) not reflecting EE potential gains
🇨 Target on RESModest target (21 per cent), relying mainly on biomass, without any sustainability safeguards
🇩 FF phase-outVolume of coal consumed expected to remain unchanged
🇨 Investment needsComprehensive assessment of investment needs, focusing solely on electricity generation
People must be involved in this process and understand what changes are expected in economies, behaviours and infrastructure. Yet the EU’s Governance Regulation which sets the framework for the formulation of the NECPs is ambiguous about when and how the public should be involved. These unclarities were multiplied by the late approval of the Regulation in December 2018. At the same time, because such plans are likely to have a significant impact on the environment, the NECPs should be subject to a strategic environmental assessment. Countries like Latvia, that is already advancing the SEA process, deserve recognition.
Key elements of the SEA are: full access to all draft plans and supporting documents, consultations with the public at the different stages of the plan’s development, and when all options are open, an independent assessment of various scenarios and their impacts.
Civil society organisations in several Member States were unable to comment constructively on the NECPs before these were sent to the Commission. In Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary, SEAs are planned at a later stage, meaning that not all options will be on the table when the final energy and climate measures are decided.
Against this backdrop, Bankwatch has assessed the level of public participation and climate protection ambition of every NECP, according to seven factors, four of which are on climate ambition: renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, plans for a fossil fuels phaseout and investment needs for reaching these objectives. The other three factors relate to public participation: level of transparency of the process, commitment to an independent review, and quality of the public consultation held.
Our analysis shows that most countries in central and eastern Europe are not committed to an ambitious energy transformation and instead stay as close as possible to business as usual scenarios. Moreover, the development of nuclear energy as a primary source of decarbonised electricity and the widespread use of biomass as a renewable energy solution highlight a pattern of minimal efforts and an avoidance of the necessary measures to really develop clean energy sources and energy efficiency measures. In many cases, measures to phase-out coal (if any) are supported by a switch to gas, and the NECPs generally do not contain a real assessment of the investment needs to achieve these 2030 objectives.
The development of the NECPs are a learning process, and the plans will not be finalised until the end of 2019. With all Member States now having submitted their draft plans to the Commission, it is crucial to focus on their improvement and implementation, as there are not many other opportunities to get right the EU’s framework on climate and energy for 2030 and therefore place Europe on a path in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2050 Long Term Strategy.