The climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time and the European Union is taking steps forward in order to be able to make Europe the first climate neutral continent in the world. Cyprus is amongst the Member States of the European Union that is committed to succeeding in the attainment of this goal. Even though the finish line of the European Green Deal is set to be 2050, the EU is already on a path to reach its climate targets in a fair, cost effective and competitive way.
European Climate Law
The European Climate Law is one of the fundamental elements of the European Green Deal published by the Commission in December 2019. As stated above, the overarching goal of these instruments is to achieve a climate neutral Europe by 2050. Therefore, The European Climate Law is significant in ensuring that this climate neutrality goal is protected in a binding European regulation and in making this goal a legal obligation.
In addition to the 2050 climate neutrality target, The European Climate Law introduces the following elements:
- At least least 55% reduction of net emissions,
- An increase in the EU’s carbon sink,
- A commitment to negative emissions after 2050,
- The establishment of European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change,
- Stronger provisions on adaptation to climate change,
- Strong coherence across Union policies with the climate neutrality objective,
- A commitment to engage with sectors to prepare sector-specific roadmaps charting the path to climate neutrality in different areas of the economy.
European Green Deal
Facing climate and environmental challenges, the European Union introduced the Green Deal in December 2019 aiming at the transformation of the European Union economy. This initiative has been undertaken as a result of the Paris Agreement on climate change which was ratified by the European Union in October 2016.
Shortly after the European Climate Law entered in force in April 2021, the Commission presented a package of proposals in July 2021 to reach its 2030 climate targets.
The Green Deal entails the following eight key policy initiatives:
- Increasing the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050,
- Supplying clean, affordable, and secure energy,
- Mobilising industry for a clean and circular economy,
- Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way,
- Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility,
- From “Farm to Fork”: designing a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system,
- Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity,
- A zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment.
The Green Deal: Implementation in Cyprus
In Cyprus, the Council of Ministers (CoM) approved the new National Governance System for the European Green Deal and the implementation of National Energy and Climate Plan was introduced under the Regulation on the governance of the energy union climate action which will be enforced for the years 2021- 2030.
The introduction of this new system was a further development on the National System for Energy and Climate, which was previously approved by the CoM in November 2017.
Cyprus National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP)
The National Energy and Climate Plan for Cyprus is a detailed roadmap for achieving Cyprus’ Energy and Climate targets by 2030. It was approved by the Council of Ministers on the 15th January 2020 and presented to the European Commission on 21st January 2020.
In addition to Cyprus’ Energy and Climate targets, the NECP also sets out key policy priorities which will be put in place to allow the country to succeed in reaching its targets.
Some important objectives and key policies included under Cyprus’s NECP are as following:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental objectives
Emissions in the non-Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) sector are aimed to be reduced by 20.9% and the emissions in the ETS sectors are aimed to be reduced by 24.9% compared to 2005 emission levels (non-ETS is understood as a part of the domestic greenhouse gas emissions that are not covered by the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS)).
It also includes targets for reducing national emissions of specific air pollutants and reducing emissions from land use, land use change or forestry.
Under the NECP of Cyprus, greenhouse gas emissions are set to be reduced with key policies including promotion of natural gas and renewable energy sources, increase in carbon sink, improvements of energy efficiency in buildings, industry and infrastructure, and reduction of emissions in the transport, agricultural and waste sector.
- Increasing the share of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) in energy consumption
Increasing the share of RES in energy consumption is one of the other goals of the NECP of Cyprus. In relation to the share of RES this is targeted to reach 23% in gross final energy consumption, 26% in gross final electricity consumption, 39% in heating and cooling and 14% in the transport sector, respectively.
Cyprus is planning to reach this goal by introducing various RES support schemes for self-consumption, promoting RES in all energy sectors, introducing financial incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles, installing RES and energy efficiency technologies in public buildings, developing new possibly financial incentives and introducing new measures for RES in transport sector.
- Improving energy efficiency
NECP of Cyprus also indicates that Cyprus aims to achieve an overall energy saving of 243.04 ktoe between 2021 and 2030. In particular, Cyprus is to introduce an energy efficiency obligation scheme for energy distributors. Energy funds will be providing soft loans for energy efficiency, and support schemes will also be introduced for promoting energy efficiency in households, enterprises and the wider public. Promotion of energy efficiency in enterprises will be encouraged through voluntary agreements. Energy efficient street lighting, along with energy efficiency in water sector and road transport, will also be put in place through an action plan. Further duties such as vehicle excise duty based on CO2 emissions, energy consumption fee for RES and energy efficiency on electricity bills, and excise tax on road transport fuels will also be imposed or made more targeted.
As a result of the European Green Deal, Europe will be able to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change and protect its population against the impact of climate change and environmental risks. Fostering new growth strategies, the European Green Deal will contribute to preserving and improving the natural resources and ecosystems of the EU while also safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the citizens.
There is no doubt that both governments and individuals will have to commit themselves in order to reach the EGD goals which require many changes and strict observation of obligations. However, once it succeeds, it will be a revolutionary global act which will help carry not only the EU but also the whole global population to a better and brighter future.
Aylin Zeybek is a Lawyer Trainee at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC