ECNO Publishes 2024 Report on EU Progress Towards Climate Neutrality

The European Climate Neutrality Observatory (ECNO) is dedicated to assisting the EU in achieving climate neutrality by offering scientifically robust analyses of economy-wide progress and providing unbiased reviews of EU climate policy. In its latest assessment, the ECNO presents a comprehensive overview of the EU’s advancement towards climate neutrality and pinpoints key action areas for the next policy cycle. The report tracks the transition pace across sectors, evaluating specific objectives and enablers through 124 indicators, combined with updates on EU policy developments

hile the report shows that all building blocks remain in the same progress category as in 2023, a closer look reveals noticeable progress in individual indicators and new policies. Ten indicators have been upgraded to a higher category, while only three have slowed down. Promising progress is evident in EU climate policy, especially under initiatives like the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package. These initiatives push most sectors, such as electricity, mobility, and industry, towards climate neutrality goals and introduce comprehensive strategies, including just transition and governance. However, the ongoing energy crisis has pushed the EU and national governments to adopt short-term measures, hindering the transition. Additionally, the report highlights significant policy gaps, particularly in the agrifood sector, where actions have been limited and key initiatives remain pending. Overall, the report states that while the transition is underway, it needs to speed up to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

Source: ECNO, Flagship Report 2024

Figure 1 shows that the building blocks for Clean Technology and Electricity are almost ‘On track’ thanks to increased public funds for environmental and energy R&D, as well as initiatives like the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the Net Zero Industry Act, and the Critical Raw Materials Act. Finance and Carbon Dioxide Removals are still moving in the wrong direction. Despite EU funding programs, fossil fuel subsidies have risen, and a significant investment gap persists. Natural carbon sinks continue to decrease, highlighting the need for substantial improvements in both natural and technical carbon dioxide removal options for a climate-neutral future.

Slow progress is also noticeable in Buildings and Mobility due to downturns in renovation rates and zero-emission vehicle stocks. The same goes for Industry, Agriculture, and External Action, but some improvements are evident, such as the reduction of GHG emissions thanks to clean energy carriers, improvements in industrial energy efficiency, and a decrease in fertilizer use. The EU citizens’ lifestyle regarding adaptation to climate change also hasn’t shown any significant progress. Material and carbon footprints have not improved, despite people reporting taking action and sales of plant-based food items increasing. A sustainable lifestyle is an area in which the EU lacks strategy, combined with policies that don’t address all relevant issues.

To accelerate the transition towards a competitive and just climate-neutral Europe in the next EU cycle, the ECNO suggests:

  • Advance effective implementation of existing and recently agreed policies, especially at the Member State level.
  • Take targeted additional action to unlock enabling conditions for the transition where needed.
  • Align finance with the transition and close the investment gap.
  • Apply a people-centered approach to EU policy to ensure a socially just transition that garners public support.

The ECNO’s 2024 report emphasizes that while significant progress has been made in several areas, urgent action is needed across all sectors to ensure that the EU stays on course to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

For more detailed information, you can view the summary and the full report.

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