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Climate: what initiatives in Europe?

“It is a war effort that must be fought: Europe can do it and should be interested in doing it: first, to set an example and to show that even economically it is advantageous”, declared Nicolas Hulot on France 2 on 22 November 2018. From the Kyoto Protocol (1997) to COP 23 (2017), including the Doha and Rio Conferences (2012), several quantified commitments have been adopted by the 28 Member States. By 2030, at least 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be achieved compared to 1990 levels. In addition, the energy mix should be at least 27% renewable energy and energy efficiency should be improved by at least 27%. By 2050, the objective is to have reduced GHG emissions by at least 80%. So how is Europe acting to meet these objectives?

The Emission Quota Trading System (ETS)

Created in 2005, the ETS is a tradable permit system by which companies can sell or buy emission allowances according to their needs, while maintaining a GHG emission cap. This cap imposed by States aims to reduce the total level of emissions in order to achieve the established objectives. At the end of the year, companies that have not complied with the ETS are exposed to heavy fines.  Despite the 2008 crisis that led to a drop in the price of allowances (due to the reduction in CO2 emissions by companies suffering from the crisis), this system has proved effective: a 2016 report shows that this system has led to a 2.9% reduction in emissions compared to 2013.

The LIFE programme

Deployed at European and national level, the LIFE programme is the main European programme aimed at fighting against climate change and for the environment. With a budget of 3.4 billion euro for the period 2014-2020, it finances projects that meet priorities such as the rational use of resources, the preservation of natural sites and spaces and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2014, the LIFE programme has also had two financial instruments at its disposal: the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) and the Private Financing for Energy Efficiency Instrument (PF4EE), which provide loans with the support of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

At the regional level, the ESIF, dedicated to regional development, also act for climate and the environment. Some of the ERDF programme priorities provide support for energy efficiency improvement, soil restoration and water management while ensuring energy security. The FESI have therefore an ambitious goal: to reconcile ecological transition in the broadest sense with economic and social concerns. 

With regard to the fight against climate change and for the environment, Europe’s roadmap seems quite rich. Through subsidised initiatives, the Union offers a wide range of solutions that both affect private companies and encourage civic initiatives. On the other hand, although it is the world’s largest trading power with 16.5% in terms of imports and exports, the EU emits only 10% of global emissions. It seems that it is in a position to influence climate initiatives across borders.


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