It is a hot struggle ‒ and not only in climate terms. Even the political discussions in the European Union on how industry, transport, energy supply and agriculture can become climate-neutral by 2050 are on the boil. The EU Parliament is currently working on the laws and directives that will help us reduce emissions in accordance with the "Green Deal". Ultimately, this will mean some countries will have to make greater efforts, while others will have less to do. But how can the emissions onus be distributed fairly among each of the EU member states?
Researchers from the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and the International Institutes for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have developed a model that uses 15 indicators to evaluate each of the 27 member states on a fair basis. In addition to financial aspects, these indicators also take social aspects into account.
As a result, many countries will have to increase their efforts even more in the future. Among those countries with greater burdens are the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Austria. Others have more leeway, as climate economist Karl Steininger explains: “Germany, for example, has already invested in a more environmentally friendly way over the past two decades. Or Bulgaria and Romania if their lower income is taken into account.” Similarly, Spain and Italy will also be less burdened because they have produced comparatively lower quantities of greenhouse gases in the past. "Austria has expanded renewable energies, but at the same time it is facing a backlog due to consistently high emissions in the past," says Steininger.
This distribution of effort is the result of combining indicators from the three areas performance, responsibility and equality. However, the research team assessed more than just nominal wealth based on gross domestic product by considering:
- What potential does the infrastructure hold, how efficient are administration and politics?
- How high is the proportion of the poorer population and their energy requirements to cover basic needs?
- How high have the emissions of a country been since 1995, and does this mean it may already have used up much of its long-term greenhouse gas budget?
“This tool is available for national negotiations on the Green Deal," Steininger says, confirming the great interest expressed by the EU bodies.
>> Learn more about the tool