This month, The Climate Group has submitted feedback to the open consultation of the European Commission on European Union (EU) climate ambition for 2030.
The Climate Group convenes a global network of over 350 businesses, many of which are headquartered or have operations in the EU. These businesses have committed to taking climate action through their own operations, for example, improving energy productivity (EP100), switching to 100% electric vehicles (EV100) and sourcing 100% renewable electricity (RE100).
The Under2 Coalition, of which The Climate Group is Secretariat, works with 37 EU regional governments, accounting for a collective GDP of 6.3 trillion Euros and 170 million citizens. The Climate Group supports these governments to accelerate climate policy development and is closely following recent developments in the EU climate policy process.
The cost of wind and solar, LEDs and lithium-ion batteries have all dropped by more than 80% in the last decade. European countries are facing a unique opportunity to support the development of these solutions, available today, at scale. They also have the opportunity and responsibility to invest in existing gaps in the clean energy transition, including long-haul transportation, grid flexibility due to the high penetration of renewables and sustainable solutions for cement and steel.
The Climate Group has repeatedly highlighted the need to halve the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this decade and supports the EU in increasing its emissions reduction target to 55% by 2030. The challenge ahead is daunting, but achievable with bold action now.
Just transition - sharing both the weight and opportunities of this vast change across our economic and societal structures - is a vital consideration. The impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic demands a focus on re-skilling workers to provide immediate opportunities and prosperous futures for both the current workforce and the next generations. Laws that lower pollution, improve health and make buildings more liveable are needed to create a future to look forward to.
The Climate Group provided responses to the EU Consultation on key issues that it works across, including energy, mobility and built environment.
In current legislation, the EU has set a target to have at least a 32% share of renewable energy in the final energy consumption in 2030. Yet today, energy production and consumption based on fossil fuels in Europe still represent more than 75% of the EU's GHG emissions, making this more urgent than ever to increase clean energy for all Europeans.
To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the energy system will need to be overhauled. Two key areas that we have highlighted for change are:
- Higher energy efficiency - The Climate Group calls for legislation for a higher level of ambition than 40% energy efficiency (in both primary and final energy consumption) by 2030.
- Higher penetration of renewable energy - The Climate Group calls to update existing legislation to enforce more than 40% renewable energy in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030.
Members of our business initiative for the 100% adoption of renewable electricity, RE100, run in partnership with CDP, already buy enough energy to power a country greater in size than Poland and the Czech Republic combined. Through setting ambitious targets, the EU will also speed up the adoption of business goals - resulting in a spiral effect in renewable energy adoption over the coming decade.
European regions disclosing climate data to The Climate Group and CDP have, on average, reduced their emissions by 23% since their respective base years, while nine regions in Europe have set a 100% renewable energy target.
Road transport is responsible for around 70% of the EU's GHG emissions in transport and around 20% of total EU emissions. The COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasized the need for sustainable and healthy transport, with the role of electric vehicles more important than ever.
EV100, an initiative run by The Climate Group, brings together forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and making electric transport the new normal by 2030. With businesses owning over half of all new registered vehicles on the road, it is crucial that companies lead the shift to electric vehicles.
The Climate Group also recognizes the importance of taking action on transport across all levels of government. Through the ZEV Community, of which the Under2 Coalition is co-host, governments from around the world are exchanging experiences, best practices and the main challenges they face in the transition to zero emission vehicles. This decade will be a defining one for the global ZEV market and governments must take bold action in key policy areas in order to achieve significant emissions reduction across the sector.
We have highlighted the three key barriers to reducing road transport emissions:
- Availability of low and zero-emission vehicles
When last surveyed, EV100 members cited a lack of supply from automakers as the top barrier to switching their fleet. This must be addressed to allow those who own fleets, including businesses and regional governments, to make large investments in electric vehicles.
- Purchase price of low and zero-emission vehicles
The Climate Group hopes that the EV100 campaign will go some way to rectifying this, as business fleet vehicles often enter the second-hand market for use by consumers. However, smaller businesses also struggle with the upfront costs and need legislative support from the EU.
- Lack of charging infrastructure
To be in line with the climate neutrality target the EU would need 1.3 million public charge points in 2025 for electric vehicles, and close to 3 million in 2030. Today, the EU has around 185,000 public charge points and local authorities, regions and companies need long-term regulatory certainty to play their role in such rapid uptake of electric vehicles.
Buildings emit 13% of the total GHG emissions in the EU (34% if including indirect emissions coming from power and district heating generation). In addition to regulations around new buildings, existing ones can be decarbonized, and their energy performance can be improved through several solutions.
The Climate Group's EP100 initiative brings together global companies, including H&M, Kingsland and KEVA, committed to smart energy use. EP100 members are actively working to improve energy productivity across their portfolios, unlocking faster decarbonization and offsetting rising energy demand while generating business benefits. These companies are leading by example and communicating the wider benefits of sustainable buildings, but with roughly 75% of the EU building stock being energy inefficient, it is imperative that the EU take immediate action to support the private sector to reduce energy consumption.
Immediate measures we suggest the EU takes include:
- Setting targets for mandatory renovation in specific sectors, e.g. public buildings, social housing, schools and hospitals.
- Implementing energy saving obligation schemes. The current rate of renovation in the EU of 1.2%-1.4% per year should at least triple.
- Financial mechanisms (access to finance and incentives), including schemes directly attached to the property itself, and not to the person renting the building.
- Removing administrative barriers preventing energy efficiency and renewable solutions.
In addition, it is vital to cut emissions from the industrial sector. Through the Industry Transition Platform, The Climate Group works with European and North American governments from highly-industrialized regions, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Zuid-Holland and Lombardy, to develop strategies to cut industry emissions, while supporting growth, job creation and prosperity. Together, these governments are exploring the role of disruptive innovation and sustainable hydrogen to reduce emissions from industry in their regions.
The Climate Group looks forward to the comprehensive plan to increase the EU 2030 climate target from the Commission in the third quarter of 2020.