When a State decides to join the Paris Agreement to combat climate change must present a national plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions with specific objectives. In climate negotiations, Europe functions as a bloc, as a single country, and the cut to which the EU as a whole committed itself by 2030 - the first stop of the Paris pact - is 40% compared to 1990 levels .
The 40% commitment - and some major lines - was agreed by the Twenty-eight and the European Commission in 2014. But fixing that great goal was almost the simplest. During the more than four years since then the Twenty-eight, the European Commission and the EU Parliament have had to agree, sector by sector, almost industry by industry, the cuts and plans that must be undertaken during the next decade to meet the goal of 40% in 2030. This Tuesday the last big block that was left was closed, the cuts that must be undertaken, for the first time, trucks and buses.
"The EU is the first major global actor that already has legislation in accordance with the Paris Agreement," points out the socialist MEP José Blanco, who has participated in the negotiations in recent years on behalf of the European Parliament to put all this regulation. The EU, explains the European Commissioner of Action for Climate, the Spanish Miguel Arias Cañete, "has completed all the regulatory framework necessary to achieve its objectives."
This framework includes emission limits in so-called diffuse sectors (such as agriculture or housing), specific cuts in COtwo for cars, vans and trucks, quotas for the implementation of renewable and energy efficiency, vetoes for subsidies to coal-fired power plants, a reform of the European emissions trading system ... In short, everything agreed opens the door to a transformation of the European economy to eliminate greenhouse gases whose excess in the atmosphere is heating the planet, according to most scientists. These European standards then drag to take concrete measures, which must transpose the different directives and measures. "Now what is needed is to ensure that countries comply with what was agreed," adds José Blanco.
"These are positive steps," says Florent Marcellesi, a member of the Greens MEPs who has also participated in the so-called trilogues, the trialogical negotiations - Governments, Commission, Euro-chamber - in several of these packages during these four years. However, he warns: "More ambition is needed." "We are being asked by young people in the streets," he says of student protests in Europe. "All the agreed framework, with the objectives, should be taken as a floor, as a minimum," says Marcellesi.
When Europe decided in 2014 to reduce its emissions by 40%, the world was different. The Paris Agreement, which dates from December 2015, had not been approved and the report of the IPCC - the group of experts that advise the UN on issues of climate change - was not known either. that warns that cuts must be made much more forceful than expected. "And neither had the collapse of the costs of renewables," says David Howell, climate policy expert at SEO / BirdLife. Commissioner Arias Cañete admits that the goal has already become obsolete. Only with the implementation of renewable and efficiency measures approved, says Arias Cañete, "the EU would be able to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 45% in 2030, above the agreed target of 40%" .
These are the objectives agreed for all sectors during these four years.
Renewable In 2030, at least 32% of all final energy consumed in the EU must be of renewable origin (which does not emit greenhouse gases), compared to 17.4% in 2017, the latest official data available. And it should reach a 32.5% in energy efficiency through the reduction of the energy used.
Transport. The European cars will have to emit in 2030 37,5% less of COtwo that in 2021, and the vans 31%. Trucks and buses, hitherto free of limits, are no longer exempt, and will have to reduce by 30% the carbon dioxide they expel into the atmosphere by 2030 compared to 2019.
Diffuse sectors The EU economy should reduce by at least 30% in 2030 emissions from its diffuse sectors - transport, residential, agriculture, waste and fluorinated gases - by 2030 compared to the levels of 2005. In the case of Spain, this reduction should be 26% The so-called diffuse sectors account for about half of all greenhouse gases that expel the EU economy.
Emissions trading. The other half of these gases are expelled by some 11,000 installations -between power plants and factories- that are obliged to participate in the emissions rights market. For years, that market has been inefficient, because what those facilities had to pay for each ton of COtwo issued was very little. The market has been reformed, the price of a ton has increased and already penalizes the most polluting forms of producing electricity, such as coal.
Aids to coal. Another of the agreements reached affects power plants that burn coal and receive so-called capacity payments (aid). Plants that emit more than 550 grams of COtwo per kilowatt hour can not continue receiving them after 2025.
While the European framework for 2030 was being finalized, the European Commission presented its strategy for the middle of this century. This strategy, which must be specified and also agreed with the governments, establishes that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions must be zero in the European Union.
"The EU has already begun the transformation towards a climate-neutral economy and will continue to lead global efforts," says the Commissioner for Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete.
Although they may seem like enormous deadlines, in sectors such as transport or energy, which require large investments, they appreciate the long-term road maps.
"Having clear road maps in the medium and long term makes things easier," explains Carlos Sallé, director of Energy Policies and Climate Change of the Iberdrola company. "It clarifies things a lot for companies that have to make investments, but also those that have to disinvest, that make adjustments," Sallé details about this type of long-term plans.