ITRE-ENVI vote on Governance of the Energy Union

The ITRE-ENVI Joint Committee voted today on the EU framework law on climate and energy (Governance of the Energy Union). The Rivasi/Turmes report was adopted successfully by 61 voices in favour, 46 against and 9 abstention. The next step is to go to plenary vote in January next year. This is the first EU piece of legislation setting objectives that are compatible with the Paris Agreement,

The EU should become a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, moving towards a highly-efficient, renewables-based energy system. For doing so, Member States will, first of all, develop long-term climate and energy strategies. The strategies need to be comparable, which is why the report introduces a binding template. Member States will also develop integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs) to meet the 2030 targets and objectives of the energy union. These NECPs should be submitted every 5 years and cover 10-year rolling periods, and they should always reflect higher ambition, in line with the Paris Agreement. This is called the “ratcheting-up” principle. What is more, the report enshrines the concept of carbon budget into EU law, identifying the amount of greenhouse gases that can still be emitted in order to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, and even to 1,5 degrees. The European “fair share” will be calculated by the Commission, factoring in historical emissions in line with the concept common but differentiated responsibility towards climate change.

As part of the decarbonisation, CO2 removal by carbon sinks are fundamental. For that reason, objectives are set in this sector, together with dedicated reporting. Furthermore, the report asks the Commission to develop a fully-fledged methane strategy, as the gas is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide with its high global warming potential and short atmospheric lifetime.

While targets are set in sectorial legislation such as the RED II, the EED and the EPBD, the governance report refers to linear trajectories for the deployment of renewables and energy efficiency over the next decade, in line with the Commission proposal. Linearity is the only way to provide investor certainty and the continuation of job creation in Europe. In case the EU and/or individual Member States deviate from their trajectory and put at risk the achievement of the targets, the report introduces a strong gap filler. It offers a toolbox for the European Commission and Member States, including participation to a financial platform. Member States can also identify and finance renewable energy projects of energy union interest, which are projects involving at least two Member States gathered in a cooperation and having a significant cross-border impact. Macro-regional partnerships and regional cooperation are essential to move forward in the cost-optimal deployment of renewable energy and market optimisation, building on what is currently done under fora like BEMIP in the Baltic Sea region, CESEC in South-Eastern Europe…

The new governance architecture will mobilise stakeholders from the grassroots level of citizens and cities up to regional, national and EU level. For doing so, the report requires each Member State to establish a permanent climate and energy dialogue platform so that citizens, local authorities and all affected stakeholders have their say on the formulation of energy and climate policies. The sub-national level plays a key role in the achievement of climate and energy targets, so local authorities should be at the heart of the Member States’ planning and reporting.

Finally, the report addresses the issue of energy poverty by introducing planning and reporting obligations to reduce the number of citizens affected by energy poverty in Member States where they compose a significant share of the population. That represents a major breakthrough for a more social Europe, placing citizens at the centre of the energy system.

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