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The Comission’s Winter Package governance proposal is overshadowed by doubts about Member State implementation of climate targets (photo by Marius Badstuber, used under Creative Commons license)

The European Commission launched a new legislative package on energy today.  It included proposals for improving climate policy governance; the policy architecture, planning and reporting requirements that are put in place to ensure that EU climate targets are delivered.

A strong climate governance framework is vital to drive cost-effective emission reductions across the EU and in Member States.

There are some positive elements of the proposal: it streamlines existing governance arrangements and introduces a requirement for Member States to produce National Energy and Climate Plans.  Some Member States already do this (the UK Government, for example, already publishes an Emissions Reduction Plan as required by the Climate Change Act) but many Member States do not.

However, the proposal does not compensate for the lack of national binding targets after 2020. The Commission leaves it entirely up to Member States to ensure that their contributions add up to the EU target.

Following the Paris Agreement, and recognising the limited ambition being proposed as part of the current EU Emissions Trading System and Effort Sharing Regulation reforms, the proposal simply is not anywhere near enough to deliver the scale of cost-effective emission reductions needed.

The EU must have a mechanism to ratchet up ambition over time.  The limited changes proposed and the direction of the EU ETS and ESR reforms are effectively locking the EU into limited action until 2030.  This means a less cost-effective, more disruptive transition to a low carbon economy will be needed after 2030.

The Commission’s proposal must trigger a debate about the full range of governance tools that could be deployed to deliver the Paris Agreement and the EU climate targets.