Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Climate Policy of the European Union: What to Expect from the Paris Agreement?

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of European Affairs

Climate Policy of the European Union: What to Expect from the Paris Agreement?

Article excerpt

Background

European Union's (EU) CO2 emission and climate policies are undergoing fundamental changes driven by environmental and energy security concerns that cause energy generation and demand to face a challenge of decarbonisation (Grosjean et al., 2016). Significant decarbonisation goes hand in hand with recent technological developments that put a strong emphasis on the electrification of the transport and heat demand sectors through the introduction of new technologies, such as electric vehicles (EV) and electric heat pumps (EHP). Postolache (2012) points out that EU is attempting to adjust its environmental policies with the current impending trends in order to keep up in the global governance and maintain its leading position in the world's international relations.

According to the EU's renewable energy plan up to date, renewable energy can be generated from a wide assortment of sources comprising of solar, tidal, aeolian, geothermal, and biomass. The targets for renewable energy sources are tricky but they must be met since the EU has previously committed to them (Bryngelsson et al., 2016; or Böhringer et al., 2016).

The European Union's energy policies are guided by three main objectives: secure energy supplies that ensure reliable provision energy, creating a competitive environment for energy providers with the purpose of safeguarding affordable energy prices, and a sustainable energy consumption through lowering the greenhouse gas emission, pollution and fossil fuel dependence (Böhringer et al., 2016). To achieve these objectives, the European Union has decided to allow free flow of energy across the national borders of the European Union countries. The free flow of energy is expected to minimize the monopoly of national energy providers thus mitigating on the issue of high prices (European Commission, 2016a). Consequently, new power lines and pipelines continue to be deployed in the region to create a resilient and integrated energy market. This is contradictory to the 1990s market design of the energy industry because energy transfer from one state to the other imposed higher rates of rates in a short period of time.

Various EU Member States have also created schemes which help to spur the adoption of renewable energy. For example, the Dutch government offers subsidies to businesses which are willing to invest in production capacity of sustainable energy. All the EU members have also shown full support for the targets of 2020 and are dedicated to decarbonize the electricity sector of EU by 2050.

Our paper evaluates the EU climate policies dealing with emissions and the introduction of renewable energy sources and analyses the provisions and outcomes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris on the 12th of December 2015 (so-called "Paris Agreement"). We ponder over the reasons for the Paris Agreement and the pre-conditions for its preparation. Moreover, we discuss the Agreement in details, describe its main points and analyse its possible outcomes. The paper concludes with some general remarks and policy implications, as well as with strengthening the argument about the timely introduction and the importance of the Paris Agreement for all participating parties, in general, and for the European Union, in particular.

Theoretical framework

The European Union has always been the supporter of sustainable growth and development and, since its beginnings, it has embedded this strategy into its main provisions and pathways for its further existence and functioning. With regard to these commitments, the European Commission (EC) put forward a legally binding target for renewable energy sources, aiming to cover 20% of the total energy consumption in the countries of the European Union (EU) by 2020. In the UK, the Climate Change Act has gone even further and set a legally binding target of 50% reduction in greenhouse gases emission by 2030, extended to a further ambitious target of 80% reduction by 2050 (Fisher and Geden, 2015). …

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