Climate and energy
The climate and energy policy of the European Union is based on three crucial pillars:
- energy security: security of supply has the highest priority, with attention being paid to sufficient diversification
- competitiveness: importance of energy prices and cost-efficiency, completing the internal energy market
- sustainability: an integrated climate and energy policy contributes to achieving the climate objectives, in line with the efforts of the EU at the global level to reach a new comprehensive climate agreement.
In line with these three pillars, the European Council decided at the end of 2014 to develop a new policy framework horizon 2030, based on the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent as compared with 1990. For this purpose, industry – via the reformed European Emissions Trading System (ETS) – as well as all other sectors such as agriculture, transport and buildings (the so-called non-ETS) will have to contribute. Proposals from the Clean Energy package were concluded to complete the energy union. European countries gave their endorsement to a binding renewable energy target of 32 percent for 2030 and a binding energy efficiency headline target of 32.5 percent. As regards management and monitoring, it was agreed within the governance framework to work with National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). In addition, proposals were developed to adapt the electricity market in order to respond to changing trends in electricity production.
Objectives for Belgium
Our country has always constructively supported the above pillars of an integrated climate and energy policy. Climate policy on the one hand and energy security and the completion of the internal energy market on the other, should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but instead as perfectly complementary.
In order to ensure the coherent and correct monitoring of these policy frameworks, a first provisional national energy and climate plan (NECP) was developed.
Cost efficiency and a fair distribution of efforts among the Member States were key priorities for Belgium with regard to the fair distribution of targets for non-ETS sectors, such as buildings and transport. Our country faces the challenge of achieving a 35 percent reduction in these sectors by 2030.
According to the Emissions Trading System (ETS), companies can only emit the quantities they can cover with the emission allowances allocated to them. If emission exceeds what is permitted by these allowances, they must purchase allowances from others. The ETS system was structurally reinforced for the period after 2020 and will remain one of the cornerstones of the EU’s climate policy. The reinforced system is accompanied by an adequate carbon leakage framework in order to protect Europe's energy-intensive industry. Promoting modern low-carbon technologies and innovation remains a priority and several funds were set up to this end under the ETS review.