In May 2018, the EU released a new piece of regulation to clarify the national GHG emissions reduction targets member States will have to follow for the 2021-2030 period. This regulation fills in the gaps left by the ETS (emissions trading system) and is part of a wider EU effort to comply with the binding European commitment of cutting emissions by at least 40% in 2030 compared with 1990 levels.
Today’s graph displays the assigned objectives for each member State; it is striking to see that the 11 countries with the lowest objectives are all Eastern European. One of the reasons for this is that GDP per capita was used as the main criterion when setting national targets. It seems fair that the wealthier the countries are, the more obliged they are to contribute. However, NGOs point out that the decision lacks ambition and contains many loopholes. The figures given by a consortium of NGOs (WWF, Oxfam…) are questioning. They claim that under this regulation, member States could emit 4.7 billion tons of CO2 equivalent more than their 2030 climate pledge. This worst possible scenario is based on a series of possible loopholes, such as the possibility to offset land-use emissions or the fact that some countries want to start calculating their future emissions cut based on the 2020 objectives and not their actual emissions, which would give them a starting point bonus.
Lower-income EU countries have also benefited from bonuses, which also explains why Eastern countries have less ambitious objectives. They have taken the track of GHG emissions reduction only recently and the EU has made the decision to allow for a soft transition rather than seeking to align them with the most advanced European countries in the short term.
Member State greenhouse gas emission reductions in 2030 in relation to their 2005 levels determined in accordance with Article 4 (in%)