Analysing whether the new Green Deal policies will help the EU achieve climate neutrality. 

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On 11 December 2019, the European Commission adopted the European Green Deal (Green Deal), initially proposed earlier in the year by the Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen. The Commission also presented a communication (the Communication) on the Green Deal to the European Parliament. The Green Deal is intended to map out Europe’s strategy to becoming the first climate-neutral continent, by proposing a number of measures to reduce the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions and increasing biodiversity. This blog post will consider some of the Green Deal’s new proposals, and how those proposals aim to achieve the Commission’s “ambitious” targets.

4 Key Green Deal Policies

The Green Deal introduces a number of new policies that form the framework of what the EU terms, “the sustainable future”. These policies vary, both in terms of the areas they target and the level of detail the Green Deal currently provides on them. However, the Commission hopes that these measures will improve the EU’s green credentials and ensure the benefits of the transition to a zero carbon economy are felt by the whole population. Key policies include:

The court argued that the German government’s 2014 decision on climate protection goals for 2020 was not legally binding.

By Jörn Kassow

On 31 October 2019, the Administrative Court of Berlin dismissed a climate lawsuit brought by German citizens against the government. The plaintiffs had alleged that the government was violating their rights by missing certain climate protection targets.

In 2014, the German government adopted its climate protection goals for 2020, which aimed at a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% (compared to 1990). However, the government now estimates that Germany will only be able to reduce emissions by 32%. Furthermore, Germany will probably not achieve the 14% reduction of GHGs which are not covered by the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), as required under the so-called Effort Sharing Decision, without credits from emission-reduction projects in third countries.

The launch of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance indicates an increased focus on a globalized approach to coordinating sustainable finance.

By Paul Davies and Michael D. Green

On October 18, 2019, the EU, China, India, and five other countries combined to launch the International Platform on Sustainable Finance (IPSF). Acknowledging the role that private capital has to play in scaling up sustainable investment worldwide, the IPSF seeks to provide a platform to increase private-sector funding in this area. This blog post will consider in more detail the IPSF’s aims, as well as the ways in which the IPSF intends to achieve them.

ECJ Decision Examines Definition of ‘Waste’ for Transboundary Consignments

Request for preliminary ruling from the Hague Court of Appeal confirms that the concepts of “waste” and “discard” must be interpreted broadly.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently handed down its judgment in response to a request for a preliminary ruling in criminal proceedings against Tronex BV (Case C-624/17), a Dutch wholesaler of residual consignments of electronic goods. The case concerns the transboundary shipment of electronic and electrical appliances to a third party in Tanzania.

This blog will examine the legislative framework and facts underpinning the case, and the ECJ’s discussion and decision.

The guidelines, along with three new reports on green finance, demonstrate the European Commission’s intent in respect of meeting its Paris Agreement targets.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green and Clément Pradille

On June 18, 2019, the European Commission (Commission) published new guidelines on corporate climate-related information reporting, as well as three new reports by the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG), as part of the Commission’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan (Action Plan). The new guidelines provide companies with information and recommendations to support their approach to reporting the impact of their activities on climate change, and also how climate change impacts the business of those companies.

Understanding the Guidelines

The Commission published its guidelines on reporting climate change-related information (2019 Guidelines) under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive 2014/95/EU (Directive). The 2019 Guidelines are part of the Action Plan, which was published in March 2018 and aims to reorient capital toward sustainable investment, manage financial risks arising from climate change, and foster transparency and a long-term view in financial and economic activities.

The significant extension aims to manage plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner and support less developed nations that import waste.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

On May 10, 2019, following two weeks of negotiations involving 1,400 delegates, at the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, it was agreed to extend the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (the Basel Convention) to include plastic waste (as well as making certain changes to the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions). The framework regarding the Basel Convention will look to implement a transparent and traceable system for the export and import of most plastic wastes under which exporting states must now obtain prior written consent from importing states.

This development represents a step change in the global management of plastic waste and places plastic waste within a globally recognised legal standard for the control of international movements of waste.

ECJ ruling provides EU Member States more flexibility in designing the promotion of renewable energies.

By Jörn Kassow, Alexander Wilhelm, and Apostolos Papadimitriou 

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that the German Renewable Energy Act of 2012 (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz – EEG 2012) did not constitute State aid (C-405/16 P). The ECJ found that the support mechanism for renewable energies in practice financed by electricity consumers paying the so-called “EEG surcharge”, and the reductions for electricity-intensive companies related to the EEG surcharge, do not constitute State aid because they do not involve State resources.

The ECJ ruling on 28 March annulled a November 2014 decision by the European Commission (EC) that approved the German support mechanism for renewable energies as compatible State aid, and for the most part the reduction of the EEG surcharge for electricity-intensive undertakings. However, in that decision the EC had also ordered Germany to recover a limited part of the reductions that was deemed incompatible.

EU will tax manufacturers for excess emissions and collect individual consumption data from vehicles in order to meet climate change goals.

By Jörn Kassow and Patrick Braasch

The EU is setting stricter CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs). A new regulation on CO2 emission standards (Regulation (EU) No 2019/631), replacing the past regulations (EC) No 443/2009 and (EU) No 510/2011, was published in the Official Journal on 25 April 2019 and will enter into force with effect from 1 January 2020. From 2025 onwards, the average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and LCVs must be reduced by 15% compared to 2021 levels. By 2030, the average emissions must be reduced by 37.5% for passenger cars and 31% for LCVs, in each case compared to 2021 levels.

These average emissions targets apply to each manufacturer’s (or group of connected manufacturers’) EU-wide fleet of new passenger cars and LCVs. The regulation will reward manufacturers with less stringent CO2 targets if they meet benchmarks regarding their respective fleet’s share of zero- and low-emission vehicles (2025: 15% for both passenger cars and LCVs, 2030: 35% for passenger cars and 30% for LCVs). Furthermore, manufacturers may enter into pooling arrangements (subject to competition law restrictions) for meeting their emissions targets. These arrangements will allow leaders in zero- and low-emission vehicles to capitalise on their below-average emissions by pooling with, and effectively selling their emissions savings to, manufacturers of more traditional, i.e., CO2-intensive passenger cars and LCVs. Manufacturers can also apply to the Commission for consideration of CO2 savings achieved through the use of innovative technologies. The Commission may grant temporary derogations from their specific emissions targets to certain niche manufacturers.