Helping EU countries meet their climate targets

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Covid-19 has understandably been on our minds for the last months. A LIFE project reminds us why we must not forget the climate crisis despite the pandemic.

Under the European Green Deal, launched in December 2019, leaders agreed that Europe must become climate-neutral by 2050. The subsequent European Climate Law proposed making this target legally binding. In order to fulfil Europe’s 2050 climate commitment, member states are developing National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).

We caught up with Elisa Martellucci from LIFE PlanUp to find out more.

How did LIFE PlanUp come about?

LIFE PlanUp was set up to track and scrutinise national energy and climate plans in five countries: Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland and Romania. The project also ensures that the plans match the urgency to take climate action and that citizens and other stakeholders are involved in their development. 

What are the project’s objectives? 

We want strong and inclusive national energy and climate plans to drive rapid decarbonisation in Europe. To get there, we are helping civil society organisations as well as local and regional authorities to develop these plans. We are encouraging these organisations to work closely together at home and with relevant EU officials in Brussels. 

What activities are you undertaking?

We provide in-depth analyses and assessments of the plans, focusing on the transport, buildings and agricultural sectors. We also hold regular training workshops and roundtable events in Brussels and across the EU.

How does LIFE PlanUp link to EU policies such as the European Green Deal?

National governments have the chance to turn the European Green Deal into tangible actions. The NECPs can act as capital raising instruments, while involving citizens and civil society in key issues of the climate transition that will affect us all.

However, as our analyses have shown, plans submitted so far are not strong enough to reach the EU’s 2030 climate target, let alone the new level of ambition set out in the European Green Deal. This higher 2030 target means that the climate plans will have to be ramped up sooner than expected.

How has Covid-19 impacted your plans?

The pandemic is having a significant impact on our societies and on how we work and interact with each other. But it does not erase the climate emergency – far from it.  A rapid transition to a zero-carbon society remains of critical importance to current and future generations.

We are therefore advocating for strong national climate plans even in the middle of this pandemic. We will continue to work hard to ensure that governments do not water down their national climate plans in the aftermath of Covid-19.

What project results would you like to highlight?

I would highlight two in particular. As a key element of the project is to encourage inclusive debate, we are particularly proud of the workshops we’ve organised so far. They really do provide a platform for exchanging ideas on how best to drive Europe’s transition forward in a way that enjoys broad public support. 

Another central part of our work is assessing countries’ energy and climate plans. Thanks to our partners on the ground, we have been able to produce high-quality reports that focus on the national context. These and other publications have been well received both in Brussels and in our five focus countries.

Do you have plans beyond LIFE PlanUp? Will the project continue?

We will continue until 2021, but our NECP work will not stop there. We will continue monitoring these plans to see how they evolve in 2023 and 2024.

On 29 June, LIFE PlanUp will hold a webinar on the role of National Energy and Climate Plans in the post-COVID recovery. More information here

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