According to the Governance Regulation, Member States are required to prepare national long-term strategies to present their climate and energy transition pathway with a perspective of at least 30 years. Despite the deadline for submission being 1 January 2020, still seven countries’ national strategies are missing and the timeline for the European Commission’s assessment is not clear.
A new report published today by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and its members assesses the situation around these documents in Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Portugal, Poland, Slovenia and Spain and discusses whether the current state of these documents would help the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2040 as required to achieve the 1.5°C objective of the Paris Agreement in a fair way.
The report underlines that the development and implementation of national long-term strategies have very different levels of ambition, political ownership and public participation in the countries involved in the study.
Czechia did not update its long-term strategy under the Governance Regulation and re-submitted its Low Carbon Development Strategies prepared in 2017. Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Spain delayed the submission of their strategies, while the Polish document is still missing.
In terms of ambition, Hungarian, Portuguese, Slovenian and Spanish long-term strategies make clear references to the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality objective and set the same objective for the country. The Croatian nLTS acknowledges the EU climate neutrality objective, but at national level it only mentions that “possible scenarios for climate neutrality still need to be developed”. The Czech and Estonian long-term strategies set an objective (indicative for Czechia) of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, which needs to be urgently updated. On a positive note, the Hungarian national long term strategy includes a thorough overview of the costs and benefits of both the Late Action and the Early Action scenarios, compares them with the costs of inaction and states that “considering avoided costs and added benefits, the Early Action scenario is the most cost-effective scenario.”
Poland, instead of preparing a long-term strategy that paves the way for climate neutrality, has prepared a fossil fuel addicted “Polish Energy Policy” until 2040. This document coordinated by the State Treasury is actually protecting state owned energy companies and big electricity companies.
National long-term strategies could play an important role in the planning (and bottom-up assessments) of Member States’ paths to climate neutrality. They could also ensure consistency between short and longer-term policies at national level as the Governance Regulation requires national long-term strategies to be consistent with the 2030 National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).
Against this backdrop, the report calls on the European Commission to request all missing national long term strategies as soon as possible and make a collective ambition gap assessment. The Commission should issue recommendations to close this gap after assessing how far Member States are from the climate neutrality objective.
Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “These national plans could play an important role in implementing the European Green Deal objectives and should pave the way for Europe’s fair contribution to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. They need to be prepared in an inclusive way and should be used as a low carbon transition guidance document in all Member States. The opportunities and gaps underlined in this report should serve as a benchmark for Member States to decide where to best put their money to achieve climate neutrality. In parallel, the European Commission should urgently publish its ambition gap assessment and suggest a process for the revision of these long term strategies to align them with the 1.5°C goal.”
Wojciech Szymalski, Institute for Sustainable Development Foundation, Poland said: “Lack of national long-term strategy is another missed opportunity for Poland – who until now limited its climate policy to hosting international climate negotiations- . It also means ignoring demands of the Polish society and companies as they have been calling for a long term transition vision and national climate policy that would accelerate the deployment of renewables and stabilise the market conditions for energy transition.”
Teodóra Dönsz-Kovács, EU Funds Campaigner of MTVSZ – Friends of the Earth Hungary said: “Having a profound assessment of three possible scenarios in the Hungarian nLTS is a first step in the right direction. However, it would be important for the Strategy to unambiguously cast its vote for the Early Action scenario, which is the most beneficial for climate and the economy. Unfortunately, even the Early Action scenario is trapped in constraints like the commitment to nuclear energy and Russian gas; it is crucial to divert from these and explore the full potential of renewables, as outlined by several expert studies.”
Ana Márquez, Coordinator of the LIFE Unify project in Spain: “These strategic documents mark the path of decarbonization of economies to 2050 and pave the way towards climate neutrality. Spain has many options to move on the right track and accelerate its steps to reach the goal before 2050, thanks to its great renewable potential if rapid deployment is done with territorial planning and sustainability criteria, and its natural carbon sink capacity if boosted through the conservation and restoration of carbon-rich ecosystems. On energy efficiency, Spain should make an early big push to rapid progress in the transport, building and heavy industry sectors, supported by the new investment opportunities geared at the green transition of its Recovery and Resilience Plan. A climate-friendly agricultural sector reinforced as a carbon sink rather than maintained as a greenhouse gas emitter, and a well coordinated climate governance at all levels in Spain remain two pending subjects”.
Notes to the Editor:
 The European Union included long-term strategies (at the time called “low-carbon development strategies”) in its internal legislation in the so-called Monitoring Mechanism Regulation in 2013. Countries like Czechia and Germany resubmitted their “low carbon development strategies” without making any meaningful change that increases climate ambition in line with the latest science.
 The report can be downloaded HERE
Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org