A new cross-sector analysis of draft National Energy and Climate Plans reveals significant risks of inadequate infrastructure, resource shortages and failure to meet 2030 climate targets. The report focuses on renewable electricity, hydrogen, land, bioenergy and the geological storage of carbon dioxide. It assesses the completeness, consistency and quality of information on those sectors within the draft NECPs from Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
A climate neutral economy will not come about by chance. The pathways consistent with well-below two degrees require decisive action during this decade. Consistent and transparent planning, with a clear eye to intermediate targets, will be needed. National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) represent an opportunity for EU Member States to chart their next steps on the road to a net-zero economy by 2050.
Clear and robust NECPs are one of the key tools available: done well, they should provide detailed information on how climate and energy targets will be implemented, with an integrated and considered view of how steps taken in different sectors will interact. They are also a powerful way to reinforce the collaboration and coordinated action across Member States if sufficient focus is set on the coherence across countries.
Member States must finalise their NECPs by June 2024. Several good practice examples exist around the EU, at least on particular aspects of the NECPs, and should serve as inspiration. This report aims to share the strengths and weaknesses on the consistency of the draft plans of a few Member States and therewith aid all of them to deliver robust plans in their final versions.
This report offers an analysis of five Member State draft NECPs and assesses them according to transparency and internal consistency.
The documents are assessed regarding four key cross-sector themes in order to both help directly improve the NECPs, and to inform and strengthen European climate planning at large as regards the use of limited, cross-sector resources: renewable electricity and renewable hydrogen, land uses, bioenergy and long-term geological storage of CO₂.
This enables national administrations to improve the draft NECPs for their final version, shining a light on the areas where these current drafts lack coherence and clarity. The report does not evaluate the likely effectiveness of the presented policies, nor the quality and inclusiveness of the drafting process. Rather, it highlights ‘planning risk’ areas in the draft plans with the aim of helping to ensure that Europe stays within the available pathways to timely climate neutrality, in this crucial decade of climate action.
The report identifies major planning shortfalls in the key areas of renewable electricity, hydrogen, land use, bioenergy and the geological storage of carbon dioxide, with crucial information missing for how countries intend to reach 2030 emissions reduction targets in National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).
Major risks were identified in renewable electricity, renewable hydrogen, land use, bioenergy and the geological storage of carbon dioxide. A lack of clarity on credible import strategies and adequate infrastructure planning means that countries risk competition for vital resources as demand outstrips supply, and missing out on economic growth opportunities.
With final NECPs due for submission in June 2024, ECNO is calling on Member States to improve the quality and consistency of their plans to ensure targets are met in this critical decade of climate action.
A new report released today assesses the quality of information and the consistency of draft national energy and climate plans (NECPs) submitted to the EU by five Member States in June 2023, including Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. These plans were selected for analysis for giving a view of the largest economies across the geographic spread of the European Union, where plans were available.
Getting onto a climate neutral pathway in this critical decade of action requires coherent and integrated cross-sectoral planning for the near term, avoiding blind overreliance on limited resources, or bottlenecks with regards to critical infrastructure.
Julien Pestiaux, Lead Author
The plans are supposed to lay out how countries intend to meet the EU energy and climate targets for 2030.
Focusing in particular on renewable electricity, renewable hydrogen, land use, bioenergy and the geological storage of carbon dioxide, ECNO’s report finds that the
“analysed plans all fall short on policy detail and transparency”.
The report flags major shortfalls in the quality of information included in the plans, and warns that inconsistencies within and between the different plans present major risks to the EU’s ability to meet its climate neutrality targets.
The combined shortfall across all five countries on transparently planned emissions reductions analysed will be 101 MtCO2e (million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year by 2030. This is more than Austria’s net annual emissions in 2021.
Italy has the greatest transparency gap, with detailed planning lacking for emissions reductions of 44 million MtCO2e missing, while Sweden’s planning gap is the lowest, applying to only 11 million MtCO2e.
ECNO challenges the credibility of Sweden’s plans, which have poor quality of information. The plans have not been updated since 2019 submissions under the prior administration, with the current government now considering scrapping its climate targets.
"Considering the next round of plans isn’t due for another five years, we need to get it right this time around. Good planning will be the bedrock of a smooth and successful transition that enables everyone to reap the economic and social benefits that climate neutrality can bring."
Aneta Stefanczyk, contributing author to the report and Public Policy Analyst at Reform Institute
There is a lack of acknowledgement and planning based on the interdependencies between renewable energy demand and the scaling up of hydrogen. This brings a risk that insufficient renewable electricity will be available to produce enough hydrogen to meet demand, and that fossil-based alternatives will end up being used to make up for supply gaps.
The trade-offs between the services that are expected to be provided from different land uses, and how land will be managed or restored in the coming years, are barely integrated in most plans. This carries a risk of increased competition for land, which could jeopardise future decarbonization efforts, or hamper land from delivering services to society.
The lack of detail on quantified domestic production targets for bioenergy, or detail on inputs, infrastructure development and funding, implies either failure to meet targets or reliance on imports, which is not detailed in most NECPs. This carries the risk of driving deforestation abroad, and putting bioenergy in competition with other land uses, including food production and natural carbon dioxide sequestration from forests or grasslands.
A lack of distinction in some NECPs between Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture Utilisation (CCU) leads to planning inconsistencies and uncertain climate outcomes, as utilisation implies storage only in the short- to medium- term, as opposed to the emissions reductions provided by long-term geological storage (LTGS) of CO2.
The quality of information for renewable electricity is generally high, but there is a lack of joined-up planning taking into account the interdependencies between renewable energy demand and the scaling up of hydrogen. This brings a risk that insufficient renewable electricity will be available to produce enough hydrogen to meet demand, and that fossil-based alternatives end up being used to make up for supply gaps, jeopardising emission reductions unless plans are strengthened.
All country plans suggest that land is expected to provide an increasing range and volume of services across sectors as part of the climate transition, such as carbon sequestration and providing biomass, the restoration of forests, wetlands and grasslands, alongside settled areas and land used for human and livestock food production.
Countries have detailed their bioenergy consumption plans, suggesting this will be an important pillar of the climate transition, but there is much less clarity about where the supply will come from to meet this growing demand.
A lack of distinction in some NECPs between Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture Utilisation (CCU) leads to planning inconsistencies and uncertain climate outcomes, as utilisation implies storage only in the short- to medium- term, as opposed to the emissions reductions provided by long-term geological storage (LTGS) of CO2. This inconsistency carries a risk of shortfalls in storage infrastructure.
Read about the EU Commission's own monitoring system,
or visit our page on EU-wide progress to climate neutrality in the cross-cutting sector governance.