Governance & Law

Ensuring that the European Union (EU) delivers on its 2030 and 2050 climate and energy commitments

Improving climate and energy governance is essential if the EU is to achieve its climate goals for 2030 and beyond. Governance describes how decisions are made and how agreed outcomes are delivered – how Europe will deliver the rapid decarbonisation of the EU economy by the middle of the 21st century. Good governance means that decisions about Europe’s approach to tackling climate change will be based on effective laws, regulations, and initiatives; that the EU institutions and Member State governments will be held accountable for delivering the necessary change; that policies are coherent and do not work at cross purposes; and that policymaking is informed by the principle of subsidiarity. Good governance unlocks the necessary investor confidence, political trust and public legitimacy to ensure that Europe will meet its long-term climate objectives at the least cost, in time to avoid the worst effects of climate change and in a way that ensures a just transition. The work of the European Climate Foundation (ECF) on governance necessitates a highly integrated approach across policy sectors.


The EU’s 2020 package established the EU as a global leader in climate governance. However, the short time horizon (to 2020) and implementation challenges experienced since then have made clear that Europe’s commitment to global efforts to avert dangerous climate change was only partial. The EU’s 2030/Energy Union debate represents a fork in the road to the low-carbon transition. On the one hand, there are powerful forces against solidarity and efforts to extend and strengthen Europe’s commitment to credible climate governance beyond 2020. On the other hand, the global governance breakthrough represented by the Paris Agreement demonstrates both the value of EU climate governance leadership and the fact that it is no longer acting alone. If the EU is not to fall behind the global energy transition – which would have profound consequences for European competitiveness and the prospects for an orderly, just and least-cost transition – the 2030/Energy Union debate must become an opportunity to champion a new kind of global climate governance. Building a better integrated, flexible, ambitious and long-term regime would underpin investor confidence in the European transition, send a strong signal of intent to global partners and demonstrate the value of the EU as a constitutional model for regional cooperation.


The ECF and its grantees and partners are responding to the European Commission’s challenge to create a new governance approach to meeting the 2030 climate and energy targets, and prepare for implementation of the Paris Agreement. This includes proposing a new process by which the EU and its Member States create long-term national energy and climate plans and report against their collective progress towards the goals of the Energy Union, including the 2030 targets for GHG reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and developing thought leadership on the options for revising the Effort Sharing Decision and the EU Emissions Trading System.

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