With European Parliament elections on the horizon in early June of this year, EU lawmakers are eager to advance as many key policy files on the legislative agenda as possible. This urgency remains relevant to ambitious climate and energy action, with several significant developments prevailing already in 2024.
Of paramount importance on the Commission’s climate agenda is the simultaneous announcement of the European carbon management strategy and the widely discussed 2040 climate target on 6 February. At this stage, the draft document for the carbon management strategy points to three distinct carbon capture goals to support the EU in achieving its climate neutrality objectives: proposing the sequestration of at least 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, 200 million tonnes of annual storage (MTA) by 2040, and 450 million MTA by 2050. Significantly, the actualisation process for carbon removal projects can take several years, resulting in a heightened sense of urgency to initiate the key technological and regulatory steps at the earliest opportunity. Moreover, the EU is also in the process of formulating its 2040 intermediate climate target. As outlined by the current draft, if the EU pushes ahead with the expected 90% emissions reduction target for 2040, the bloc’s fossil fuel use for energy would see a decrease of 80% by the same year.
Furthermore, negotiations on the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), the only initiative of the Green Deal Industrial Plan yet to reach a provisional political agreement, are steadily progressing despite divided opinions on a clean technology target. The target, introduced by the European Parliament, seeks at least 25% of the yearly global demand for clean technology to be produced in the EU. However, a number of member states view this target as an ineffective tool for boosting the EU’s access to clean technologies, pointing to the primary focus of the legislation towards safeguarding sufficient domestic production rather than global, to ensure the demand needed for achieving EU climate targets is met. Nevertheless, the Belgian Presidency remains optimistic that a final deal will be agreed upon during the next negotiation on 6 February.
Another significant policy file under scrutiny concerns geothermal energy and its role in the clean energy transition. In this regard, the European Parliament on 18 January voted in favour of a resolution calling for the establishment of an EU strategy on geothermal energy, aiming to expedite its deployment and increase investments in the technology. Finally, noteworthy developments on renewables are emerging from ENTSO-E, the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators (TSOs), which launched its Offshore Network Development Plans (ONDPs) on 23 January. By compiling data from member states, ENTSO-E has determined that EU countries have upcoming project plans for 354 GW of offshore renewables by 2050, surpassing the Commission's target of 300 GW by 2050 outlined in its offshore renewable energy plan from 2020.