Photo: European Union.
08 Feb 2024, 10:40

CLEW Guide to Europe's transition to climate neutrality

Europe has become a key driver of the global move to climate neutrality, with the EU's Green Deal as a crucial policy plan to get to net zero by 2050. Even beyond the EU, national energy systems are becoming increasingly interlinked, and national decisions (or lack thereof) have implications well beyond their own borders. The ‘CLEW Guide to…’ series provides a general overview over where the various countries stand on energy transition and climate policies. A closer look at several European countries (Poland, France, Croatia, Italy, Germany) and Brussels (for the EU as a whole) help readers look beyond national borders to gain insights into current debates and developments.

You can also sign up to the weekly newsletter here to receive our "Dispatch from..." – weekly updates from Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Poland and the EU on the need-to-know about the continent’s move to climate neutrality.

CLEW Guide – EU

Photo: European Union.

How the European Union is trying to legislate a path to net-zero

The European Union announced itself as a potential early climate champion in 2018 by pledging to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. Yet, rules and regulations are needed to bring emissions down sufficiently to make ‘climate neutrality’ a feasible reality. A lot of work has been done but much is still on the agenda. Politics clashes with policy, continuing to influence what degree of legislative ambition can be pursued. Read the Guide here.

CLEW Guide – Italy

Photo: CLEW/Wettengel.

Italy moves on green transition, but fossil ties remain tight

Italy has taken significant steps in its green transition over the past decade, but the current government under prime minister Giorgia Meloni is also focused on making the country a "gas hub" in the Mediterranean Sea, demonstrating its ongoing deep ties to fossil fuels. The year 2024 has started with the Italy-Africa Summit and the country's G7 presidency, both focusing on energy cooperation and addressing immigration issues through the so-called "Mattei Plan". Researchers and NGOs have criticised the country's new draft energy and climate plan (NECP) for being vague about key topics such as phasing out oil, coal and gas, and expanding alternative energy sources like wind or solar power – issues that make meeting the EU's climate and renewables targets all the harder. Read the Guide here.

CLEW Guide – Germany

Photo: CLEW/Wettengel.

Germany still off track for 2030 climate targets

Germany's government is grappling with the consequences of a constitutional court ruling that declared a large part of its budget plans to fund climate and transformation projects unconstitutional. The resulting funding gaps could jeopardise the implementation of countless energy transition projects: from the speed of the heating transition to an early coal phase-out. Still, the government is committed to modernising Germany's economy and being a "prosperity leader" in a climate neutral world. Renewable power expansion picked up pace in the past couple of years, and the end of nuclear power generation in 2023 marked a milestone in Germany’s famed energy transition. Read the Guide here.

CLEW Guide – France

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France moves into action with new climate plan, green industry makeover

With a set of fresh new targets, France appears ready to tackle the energy and climate crises head on: accelerating the development of its fleet of nuclear reactors, increased incentives for electric vehicle adaptation, ambitious targets to reduce energy consumption and a commitment to progressively phase out fossil fuels. However, planned actions behind these targets do not yet add up. The country continues to lag behind its European neighbours when it comes to the rollout of renewables, and now faces financial penalties for not taking any measures to make up for the 2020 gap towards its renewables target. France was also found to be Europe's largest supporter of major oil, gas and coal extraction projects. Read the Guide here.

CLEW Guide – Poland

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CLEW Guide – NGOs become disillusioned with Poland’s new government

A broad liberal/left coalition government with Donald Tusk as prime minister took power in December 2023 with a promise to "repair" what it regards as mistakes of the previous conservative government. That includes climate policy and the energy transition. The new coalition wants to "speed up" the green transition, build out more renewables, invest in the grid and energy efficiency, and strengthen nature conservation measures. However, a number of roadblocks stand in the way of the bold promises. Energy prices and inflation are hitting citizens and businesses hard. Poland's electricity sector is still dominated by coal. While citizens hold high expectations for government improvements in all areas — from the judicial system to schools, from the army to forestry — the government must also deal with questions of energy, especially with coal plants reaching the end of their lifespans and the EU's Green Deal due to be implemented further in the next years. Read the Guide here.

CLEW Guide – Croatia

Photo: European Union.

Croatia caught between LNG ambitions and abundant untapped renewable energy potential

Ahead of what is touted to be a "super election year" 2024 in Croatia with three important elections scheduled, energy issues are expected to play an important role in the political campaigns but the price of using energy is still mostly prevailing over the environmental and climate concerns. The current government supports the expansion of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk with the aim of turning the country into a regional hub for the import of fossil gas from the United States. This effort elicits frequent protests from green NGOs and energy experts. Read the Guide here.

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