The EU is set to miss its climate change targets. European Union countries had committed by the year 2020 to a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, alongside achieving 20% of energy from renewables and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency. By 2030, those targets increase to a 40% cut in emissions, a 32% share for renewable energy, and a 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency.
However, Europe is not on course to realise its pledges. According to the European Environment Agency, “most of the 2020 targets will not be achieved” and, worryingly, “the current rate of progress will not be enough to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets”.
What does that actually mean? If a Member State misses its targets, what happens next? Currently, the European Commission has what it calls a “strong monitoring and compliance system” in place, compelling Member States to come up with a “corrective action plan” for getting back on track.
In theory, the EU could launch infringement procedures against Member States persistently missing their targets. This could potentially lead to the European Court of Justice ordering fines be paid. However, in reality, is such an approach feasible? Some analysts argue the EU would be much better of taking a consensus-based approach, and question the efficacy of “forcing” governments to meet targets through financial penalties.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Joyce, who thinks there should be “stiff laws and penalties for polluting and emissions in every country”. Is that currently the case in the EU? Should tough sanctions for missing climate targets exist?
To get a response, we spoke to Mark Radka, Chief of the Energy and Climate Branch at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). What would he say?
For another perspective, we also put Joyce’s comment to Matthias Duwe, Head of Climate at the Ecologic Institute, a Berlin-based think tank focusing on environmental research and policy analysis. How would he respond?
Should the EU fine member states who fail to reach climate targets? Should tough sanctions for missing legal emissions limits be put in place? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!