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How do national energy policies fit into EU decarbonisation plans?

Through considering several different national perspectives, we discuss how to reconcile the EU Climate Strategy targets with national energy and clim


Carole Mathieu

Research Fellow, Centre for Energy of the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri),

Christian von Hirschhausen

Professor of Energy Economics and Public Sector Management, Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden), and Research Director, DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research),

video & audio recordings


With the European Elections rapidly approaching, one of the most important challenges that the new European Commission will face will be the coordination of national climate strategies. At this event, representatives from Poland, France, and Germany discussed their national strategies and the challenges that should be expected to arise when, at the end of June, the commission will give recommendations on the coordination of these strategies.

The event began with a brief overview of how each of the three featured countries is doing in terms of carbon reduction. The EU Commission has given recommendations on how member economies should reduce carbon, and currently, Germany is exceeding commission recommendations for the amount of carbon reduction that should take place. France and Poland, on the other hand, are falling short of the Commission’s recommended targets. Additionally, of the three countries, Germany has done the most to date in moving toward electricity.

After the discussion on how the countries are doing compared to each other, the representatives from each country discussed their particular decarbonization plan. Poland was up first. Poland is still quite dependent on coal, but up until the year 2018, production of renewables had been steadily increasing. In 2018, production of renewables decreased because of a lack of government support given to such production. The discussion then led into the drafts of Poland’s 2030 and 2040 decarbonization plans. Poland’s plan includes a goal of reducing coal to 60% of the energy share by 2030, having 21% of the energy share comprised of renewables, the introduction of nuclear energy in 2033, improving energy efficiency, and reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. There are some critiques of Poland’s policy, however, the most notable being concerns that the program doesn’t give significant consideration to EU targets and that the rate of electricity growth and coal imports may be too high.

Next, the French Program was introduced. France has a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The main policy measures that will be used to achieve this include carbon pricing at 86 euro/t by the year 2022, emissions limits in the automobile sector and promotion of car-sharing, introduction of more efficient heating systems, and renovation of homes to make them more energy efficient. There is also a plan to reduce nuclear energy from its current level of 72% to 50% and to close two nuclear and four coal plants (that together account for 35% of current CO2 emissions). France also has plans to update old power plants to make them more sustainable and energy efficient. France is a major supporter of EU carbon neutrality by 2050 and wants to engage in climate policy coordination so that certain countries do not shoulder a disproportionate burden in the decarbonization process.

Lastly, the German Program was discussed. Germany has been quite successful in phasing out coal and nuclear sources of energy, and is adamant about the fact that nuclear power is not a part of a “low-carbon” energy mix. Germany also has plans to phase out liquified natural gas, stating that under a strict carbon constraint, it should disappear and be replaced by biogas. The German representative was critical of the fact that the Polish and French plan do not seek to reduce natural gas.

To conclude the event, there was a brief discussion about why it has been difficult for coordination of climate policy to begin (it was scheduled to start in 2019 and has yet to happen). The representatives explained that it is difficult to build national consensus on these issues, and they believe coordination will eventually occur. It has just taken a bit longer than expected.

Notes by Davis Cousar


Presentation by Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk

Presentation by Christian von Hirschhausen

Presentation by Carole Mathieu

Presentation by Georg Zachmann