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!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – Foto VDW

19 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I definitely think so! The climate crisis is the most important issue of our time. Sadly, only money seems to matter to many politicians and countries though, so threatening them with penalties seems to me like the only thing that would actually get them to act!

  2. avatar

    Depends on the plans. So yes if they totaly fail. But imo encouragement might work better.

  3. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Here we go again! What comes to mind?

    * Typical legal EU Brussels bureaucracy &
    * Bureaucrats, who think all is needed are setting & issuing “targets & directives”?

    Of course, it’s the “members”- “never” Brussels!

    Is that how one earns a cushy living & secures an EU pension? Never mind being realistic and professional or the target affordable and achievable or not.

    Setting such limits under the “influence” (of global mass hysteria) to earn political brownie points- is disingenuous- even disgraceful.

    Voters should “fine” these (unrealistic) target setters!

  4. avatar

    Yes Debating Europe, fine them all for being poor and not being able to afford useless photostatics and wind turbines that are so inefficient and costly that they take 30 years to pay for themselves. In fact, lets go back to horse and cart if we’re going to be really progressive about reaching a zero-emission utopia!

  5. avatar

    How do we know the targets are correct? How about China India targets?

  6. avatar

    first and foremost we should see does the state has enough resources to make that change…or are we going to bankrupt the state in order to meet the deadline..
    we must not forget that when a particular region is polluted because of industrializations the beneficiary of that industrialization is always somebody else.

  7. avatar

    You need to help them build some nuclear power plants, because they also serve as a protective cover against possible attack by the red mafia when they explode with the westerly wind, all radioactivity contaminated to Siberia. It can make you think twice before acting out.

  8. avatar

    Fine the corrupted politicians! Why should people pay for the crimes of the political mafia and the rulers?

  9. avatar

    This is why we should abandon the national division and work in sommon solidarity so that every European citizen can both have a decent life without and reducing their footprint. Because the fight against GW is the priority, and we don’t want to make anyone suffer for this, don’t we?

  10. avatar

    A few things bother me about this scam,firstly if the EU is to fine member states what will it do with the money it collects?,secondly who gets to fine China and India?.

  11. avatar

    The EU policy about climate change will bring poverty to our countries. The GW is a fake sponsored by the capitalism and I,m surprised the left follows It.

  12. avatar

    Fining member states is never a good policy. But should exerce power over them.

  13. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Should the EU fine member states who fail to reach climate targets?

    In other words, forced into outright theft by incarceration should you complain of it.

  14. avatar

    EU’s control and enforcement policies are rarely effective, as those are top down. One ceratinly cannot rely only on those, especially as recent UNEP report states that reaching 1,5 degree target the annual reduction should be 7,6%. The quick and bold shift needs to be done from subsiding fossil fuel projects (more than 5 trio USD/year) to renewable energy, to sustainable transport, to restoration of ecosystems, to producing sustainable construction materials etc. Preferrably bottom-up. To allow and enable SMEs to generate and scale up those quickly. Each of us could give a share to reduce carbon footprint e.g. producing less food waste, using less plastic etc. Solutions exist and even are listed

  15. avatar
    Violet McFarlane

    Yes, this will encourage people to be better to the Enviroment!!

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