On 20 July 2016, the European Commission proposed new binding greenhouse gas emissions targets for the period from 2021 to 2030 (the so-called Effort Sharing Regulation). The targets apply to certain sectors of the economy not regulated under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). In addition, the Commission also proposes to integrate the land-use sectors into the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. The latter proposal sets out a binding commitment for each Member State covering CO₂ impact from forestry and agriculture.

In combination with a 2015 proposal for the revision of the EU Emission Trading System, which concerns the industrial and power sectors, today’s proposals aim to ensure the achievement of commitments by the EU and its Member States under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In Paris, the EU had committed to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030. The current proposal aims to translate this EU target for every individual Member State.

The Effort Sharing Regulation is a follow-up to the Effort Sharing Decision of 2009, which established national emission targets for Member States for the period 2013-2020. Under the current proposal, Belgium should aim to reduce emissions by 35% compared to 2005. The target for the Netherlands is set at a 36% reduction. In addition to the 2030 target, the proposal sets out an annual emission limit for each year in the ten year period between 2021-2030, according to a decreasing linear trajectory. In line with the 2020 targets, the proposal recognises the different capacities of Member States by differentiating national targets according to GDP per capita across Member States.

The proposal has been met with mixed reactions. According to Belgian MEP Ivo Belet, the 35% target is “challenging but realistic”. However, Belet states that Belgium must start implementing measures no later than today. He further stresses the need for a new Belgian climate agreement by January 2017, in order to clarify the allocation of efforts that have to be made by the three different Regions to reach the target. The previous targets for 2020 have been allocated in a similar agreement. In the Netherlands, the target of 36 % was criticized by most Dutch political parties. Amongst others Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout expressed his disappointment. According to him, these targets ignore the climate change agreement that has been reached in Paris. Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy however states these national targets will allow the EU to meet its climate goals agreed to in Paris, if only by narrow measure.

The Commission has now submitted its two proposals to the European Parliament and the European Council. The latter two will now have to take the proposals under consideration, in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.