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Closer to 2030: EU governments toughen climate targets as decade progresses

28 February 2022 Zoe Grainge

National 2030 climate and energy targets across Europe are being re-worked as the decade progresses.

Two years into the EU National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) for 2030, and some governments have altered 2030 targets to better reflect reality while others have changed plans to align with tougher EU ambitions.

The NECPs are obligatory 2030 plans for individual EU states to achieve the aggregate EU targets for greenhouse gas reduction and the energy transition. For most countries, NECPs were finalised in 2019. However, in April 2021, the EU changed the goalpost by approving a tougher target of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 instead of the 40% target. Then, in June 2021, the EU Commission proposed the "Fit for 55" package of legislation for the bloc to achieve this new 55% aim.

As these changes unfolded at the high level, national governments began to take stock. In many instances, the changes to the targets came after a change of government.

Notably, the new German government (which is a coalition including the Green Party) has strengthened renewable power capacity targets and increased the target share of renewables in power to 80% by 2030 instead of 65%. For onshore renewables, the government has banked on solar PV, with a new aim of 200 GW by 2030, a 100% increase on the old target.

Italy's government under Mario Draghi has also re-worked renewables targets. Italy's renewables build-out has been faltering, with capacity auctions undersubscribed and long queues for grid connection permits. With 8 years left, the government has reduced the volume of renewables to be built via auction, but assumed the private sector will pick up the slack with power purchase agreements. It also created a super-ministry, the ministry for ecological transition, to fast-track permits.

Ireland, Belgium, and Spain have all toughened existing targets in the past 6 months or, in the case of Spain, introduced new targets in the shape of offshore wind. Outside the EU, the UK has announced official intent to have a carbon-free power generation system by 2035. The scope of ambition is being felt at national level.

European renewable electricity targets, 2030

Learn more about our European energy research.

Zoe Grainge, senior analyst with the Climate and Sustainability team, focuses on the fundamentals of the European gas market.

Posted on 28 February 2022.

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