On 23 April, the EU Commission announced that they have formally adopted the Climate Change and Energy Package together with legislation to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles and fuel. Following the implementation of "Directive 2008/101/EC amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community," on 2 February 2009, the new Directives are another move to show the commitment of the Commission and Europe to prevent climate change and fulfil corresponding international obligations.

Climate Change and Energy Package overview

The Climate Change and Energy Package covers a multitude of areas within the sector, including aviation, renewable energy and carbon. EU member states agreed to set targets and standards in order to reduce climate change and improve energy efficiency as part of a collective goal.

Commitments under the Package as agreed on 23 April 2009

The package that has been formally adopted falls in line with commitments made prior to adoption. Contracting countries have signed up to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels and to raise the share of energy consumption provided by renewable resources to 20%, by 2020. Additionally the package contributes to the target of improving energy efficiency by 20%.

The new package also seeks to increase the emissions reduction target from 20% to 30%, if international standards are set. At the climate change and energy conference in Copenhagen, in December, other developed and developing countries will be asked to contribute their share towards this overall target.

New legislation

The Climate Change and Energy Package consists of four legislative texts:

  • a Directive revising the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which covers EU greenhouse gas emissions. This will become effective in 2013 when the next trading period begins. The key differences from previous trading schemes are that the period has been extended from 5 to 8 years and the levels of auctioning will increase rapidly from 4% to just below half.
  • an "effort-sharing" Decision setting binding national targets for emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS, with a member state target of 21% reduction by 2020 compared to 2005.
  • a Directive setting binding national targets for increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the energy mix.
  • a Directive creating a legal framework for the safe and environmentally sound use of carbon capture and storage technologies.

The package is complemented by two further legislative acts that were agreed at the same time:

  • a Regulation requiring a reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 120g per km, to be phased in between 2012 and 2015, and further to 95g per km in 2020. This will contribute more than one-third of the emission reductions required in the non-ETS sectors;
  • a revision of the Fuel Quality Directive requiring fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel production chain by 6% by 2020.

Responses to the Package

The Commission are promoting the success of formalisation of the package. Commission President José Manuel Barroso said on adoption:

"Today we have reached agreement on one of the top priorities of this Commission. The energy and climate change package represents the litmus test of Europe's ability to act for the benefit of its citizens."

By contrast, Dörte Fouquet, director of the European Renewable Energies Federation, argued that the interim targets and penalty mechanisms in the new directives are not strong enough to ensure targets will be achieved. With reference to the Renewable Energy Directive agreed in December she said:

"When you have just a binding target in 2020, a lot is on the shoulders of the Commission to push the member states to do something".

Climate Change and Energy legislation, by nature, has 'long' timescales. Therefore, there is likely to be detailed discussion and analysis of progress in the lead up to 2020.

Going forward

The Directives are expected to be published in the Official Journal this month. The Directives will enter into force 20 days after publication.

The climate change conference in Copenhagen, in December, will see the Climate Change and Energy Package put to non-member states. Here, the full effect of renewable energy objectives will be tested.