European Interest

Governments plan to miss EU climate goals – T&E analysis

All countries need to implement far more effective policies to reduce transport emissions than have been proposed to date according to the T&E analysis.

A new climate ranking shows that EU governments’ plans to cut pollution from transport, Europe’s biggest emitter, will fail to meet their own 2030 emissions targets. Only the top 3, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain, scored above 50% in the ranking of draft national energy and climate plans compiled by Transport & Environment (T&E). Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is 15th, setting itself up to pay billions of euro to other countries for missing the EU’s 2030 emissions goals. All countries need to implement far more effective policies to reduce transport emissions than have been proposed to date.

The Netherlands has pledged that no fossil fuel cars will be sold there by 2030 and to reduce overall transport emissions by 29% compared to 2005 levels. However, its No 1 ranking is contingent on a draft national climate agreement which the government has already said it will weaken. The UK and Spain have similar plans to ban fossil fuel cars by 2040, far too late to decarbonise the vehicle fleet by 2050. Britain also leaves the door open for hybrids, and both the UK and Spanish pledges are non-binding.

“Right now most EU governments’ transport climate plans will see them miss the EU’s binding 2030 emissions targets. That means they could be taken to court and fined, or be forced to pay for emission reductions in other EU countries,” said Carlos Calvo Ambel, trends and analysis director at T&E.

Of the lower ranked EU countries, Germany (15th) has postponed making decisions until the final version of its plan is published (due before the end of the year). Italy (17th) plans to push gas-powered cars and trucks despite them emitting as much greenhouse gases as petrol and diesel vehicles. Of the bottom two, Bulgaria’s plan contains nothing to cut truck, van, aviation or shipping emissions, while Hungary (28th) says it will grow its transport emissions to 30% above 2005 levels.

The European Commission will comment on each national energy and climate plan before the end of June. Countries must submit their final plan before the end of 2019. As many member states are putting themselves on course to miss their 2030 climate targets, under EU rules they will end up buying billions of euro worth of credits from the best-performing member states. T&E said it is possible but also necessary to decarbonise transport by 2050 at the latest.

“The EU elections’ green wave shows Europeans want the EU to stand up for the environment. The new Commission should send governments back to the drawing boards and tell them to come up with a plan that doesn’t ignore the children marching on our streets,” Carlos Calvo Ambel concluded.

Explore more