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The New Proposal for a European Climate Law: Bulgaria has the Chance to join the Group of Winners only with an Аmbitious Coal Exit Plan

Тhe European Commission launched last week its proposal for a pioneering Climate Law, preparing the path for Europe to become the first continent with a carbon neutrality goal for 2050. At the same time, the Commission has opened a public consultation on the future European Climate Pact, which will enable civil society to get involved in co-designing this instrument. However, many uncertainties remain, which need to be dealt with in the coming weeks and months if the EU wants to lead the way at COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2020.

A concrete 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is missing. This has been the bone of contention among different Member States on the one side and civil society organisations on the other. A group of Northern Member States support a more ambitious target of 55% and even 60% emissions reduction by 2030. On the opposite side, Eastern European coal dependent countries fear it would impact their economic growth and lead to a carbon leakage, leaving them behind in the clean energy transition. The road to carbon neutrality is also paved with renewed nuclear energy intentions of some countries like France, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. This could have an adverse effect on the sustainability of the European Green Deal, as costly nuclear infrastructure investments would deter the scaling up of renewable energy investments by diverting capital and demand.

Apart from the lack of a specific emission reduction goal, the draft legislation also leaves key decisions regarding energy intensive industrial sectors (such as the revision of the Emissions Trading Scheme, emission limits for cars, etc.) for later, which adds up to the uncertainty of the industrial transformation pathway. Setting a timely and ambitious climate target is essential for ensuring regulatory predictability, attracting investments in clean energy technologies and strengthening EU negotiating position ahead of COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2020. The EU should use its climate diplomacy tools to push other G20 leaders to adopt ambitous long-term decarbonisation strategies and policies, so that the effort is shared among the biggest polluters and measures are not asymmetrical. Only 5 of the G20 countries have developed carbon neutrality strategies.

The key positive novelty of the proposed climate legislation lies in the new decision-making procedure for adopting future climate-related initiatives. These will no longer require unanimity, which means that climate skeptic governments will no longer be able to block ambitious proposals. The draft Climate Law also aims to enhance the governance aspects of climate law-making and strengthens adaptation as the third key pillar.

CSD has been advocating continuously for increasing the ambition in the Bulgarian National Energy and Climate Action Plan, improving the regulatory conditions for small-scale renewables and citizen energy, as well as strengthening the governance aspects of the 2030 Plan as a response to the new priorities of the European Green Deal. The postponement of the coal exit in Bulgaria could put a brake on the energy transition process and have debilitating effects on the national economy, placing the country to the group of losers instead of capitaliяing on the green technological revolution to attract new investments and stimulate green jobs growth.

 

With the financial support of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI)

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