NEW REPORT: enhancing data transparency across Europe is critical for credible climate and energy policies

Climate action| Energy transition

Access to and the quality of energy and climate information across Europe is extremely poor, a new report “Transparency and Access to Data on Climate Action” by a group of climate NGOs, finds.

The authors,  the Together for 1.5 consortium, present best practices and recommendations for improvement towards Member States and the EU, and call for swift action to allow civil society and other stakeholders to have a say in the decision-making processes, based on accurate, complete and timely data. 

Transparency and public access to data is key to follow the implementation of climate and energy policies and check the evolution of the set climate and energy targets,” said CAN Europe’s project manager and policy expert, Brigitta Bozso.

The Aarhus Convention requires all EU Member States to make environmental information publicly available. Despite this legal requirement, access to quality and open data is not yet granted in all Member States. 

The authors of the report have carried out a first analysis of the needs, quality, availability and accessibility of key environmental data, as well as the methodology used by the public authorities to collect data. Based on these findings, the report puts forward some key recommendations:

  • Greater data availability is at the core of more transparent, measurable and credible public policies. Open data sources allow stronger and more objective interaction with stakeholders for data release and publication of relevant datasets. 
  • It is important to maintain government data periodically updated according to the target’ s timeline. 
  • Data quality – such as accuracy, completeness, consistency, reliability and timeliness needs to be improved. Governments can create frameworks with standards on data formats and publication procedures for greater data quality.
  • Accessibility of official data by citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders: core features of accessible data include providing them free of charge, with unrestricted access, and in easy-readable formats.

The upcoming revision of the Governance Regulation presents a significant opportunity to improve data availability, consistency and transparency at national, but also EU level. 

Notes to editors:

This report presents information about the experience and obstacles encountered when gathering  climate and energy data relevant to assess the national energy and climate plans (NECPs). 

The consortium partners have analysed data from 12 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. 

Each partner has completed a comprehensive questionnaire, with the main objective of identifying barriers and needs for improvement in terms of transparency and access to data. 

In a nutshell

The good

  • Most countries have historical data series from 1990 for all main climate and energy indicators.
  • The majority of countries use the normal templates from UNFCCC/EEA and EUROSTAT when compiling their GHG emissions and energy data. 
  • Most of the countries use units of measurement based on EU standards to facilitate comparison of the same data between European countries. 
  • Only two countries do not have any official public website(s) where they can easily find and download all above-mentioned data.
  • All countries count on at least an officially assigned institution in charge of the GHG emissions compilation, and all but Poland count on at least one officially assigned institution in charge of the energy indicators compilation.

The moderate

  • Most countries have a two-year delay for updating their national datasets, but some have managed to publish and make available datasets within one year or even earlier.
  • All but Poland provide national data for ETS and ESR sectors separately, although ETS sectors specifically can be hard to find on the government website (in Estonia) and sub-sectors data are not clear enough on how much of the emissions are within and outside the ETS sectors (in Denmark).
  • All countries offer national data for renewable energy and other sources separately. However, some problems have been underlined within the ‘other renewables’ category (in Spain) and within the ‘biomass’ category (in Denmark).
  • Only a third of the countries report energy data at operational level, although there is no clear answer when it comes to comparing national and operational levels.
  • The majority of countries do not count on an institutional focal point on climate issues and half of them do not count on an institutional focal point on energy issues to answer and solve any information and/or public consultation.

The bad

  • The countries who report subnational data show the existence of differences between national and subnational levels when it comes to data collection.
  • The disaggregation/dispersion of data between several institutions/different websites and the non-existence of a single website acting as a ‘one stop shop’ with all climate and energy data in an easy downloadable format, are two main obstacles pointed out on the public accessibility of data. Some indicators are still provided in unmanageable pdf format (in Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany and Poland).
  • The late or insufficient response of some institutional contacts, the lack of talking or exchange between official directorates and the difficulties to find some of the information on the official websites and compare data from different sources, are among the obstacles identified on the role of responsible institution(s).
  • The difficulty to know where to find data and who to consult information when several public bodies deal in parallel with the same issues, and the weak communication of institutional focal points with only the minimum required for information sharing and public consultation, are among the main problems identified on the role of institutional focal point(s). 


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