EU climate law falls short of expectations

UFOP: Action on climate protection through consensus and motivation rather than coercion

Berlin, 06 March 2020. The climate law presented on March 4 by the EU Commission did not meet the expectations of the ambitious climate protection policy that had been previously announced. In order to meet the 2050 goal of zero net emissions, the requirements for reaching the climate protection target of 55% in 2030 need to be achieved in the commitment period between 2021 and 2030. These requirements would need to be developed through consensus with the agriculture sector, not “crowbarred” in. The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen e.V. (UFOP) emphasised this in their first evaluation.

Clearly, the EU Commission set their expectations too high with their announcement of a “Green Deal”, published at the end of December 2019. UFOP stressed that this should be viewed very critically, especially as the UN climate summit will take place in London in November 2020 and the European Union – as announced in the “Green Deal” – will have to emphasise their leading role in international climate protection.

The climate law states that the National Energy and Climate Plans of the EU member states will be examined, with a view to setting a higher target. Regrettably, according to UFOP, not all plans have yet been submitted to Brussels; Germany is among these late member states. The climate act primarily refers to the provisions of the governance regulation as a control that is noticeable for the member states. What seems completely incomprehensible is the declaration included in the draft that an impact assessment of the National Energy and Climate Plans will only be performed in September 2020, and that a statutory increase from 40% to 50% or 55% of the EU climate targets will only be undertaken in June 2021. The European Parliament endorses this higher target. However, achieving a more ambitious target also means involving all social groups and economic sectors, especially agriculture as a sector that is especially impacted.

UFOP emphasises that if the EU climate protection target is significantly increased to 55% and if a hard Brexit comes to pass, a greenhouse gas reduction gap of 360 million tonnes is to be expected. This is because after Brexit, the targets for emission reduction for non-ETS sectors assigned to the individual member states as part of the EU’s “burden sharing regulation” (Lastenteilungsverordnung) will be recalculated and reallocated.
Therefore, as part of the announced review of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the guidelines for the state aid assessment or approval of environmental aid, the restrictions on the use of cultivated biomass as energy in the fuel and electricity sector must also be reconsidered. This is because the strictest legal requirements for sustainability, measured against international standards, do not just apply in Germany or the EU, but also in third countries and therefore also for biofuels or raw materials imported from these countries for the production of biofuels. It is therefore absurd to allow this sustainable biomass potential to go untapped. According to current statistics from the Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe - FNR), in Germany, renewable raw materials are cultivated across an area totalling 2.3 million hectares. UFOP notes that there are no other identifiable revenue alternatives which would relieve the burden on agricultural markets.

With the Green Deal and the climate law presented on March 4, the EU Commission, as highlighted in the act, is expected to initiate a discussion regarding strategy with the agricultural industry. The aim is not only to make a contribution to climate protection, but to simultaneously increase the associated value creation potential for rural areas. UFOP reinforces their position that this would be an example of a perceptible bioeconomic strategy that would encourage acceptance.