EU Climate Law – More dialogue and ambition needed

Ciarán Cuffe, Member of the European Parliament

As EU lawmakers are debating the forthcoming first “Climate Law” to enshrine the climate neutrality target into legislation, our colleague Adrian Hiel talked to MEP Ciarán Cuffe, who sits in the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

Adrian Hiel, Energy Cities: Is there one element of the Climate Law which surprised you in a positive way?

Ciarán Cuffe: The fact that we now have a Climate law that aims to legally bind us to our environmental obligations is obviously a good news. One more specific positive aspect is the 5-year stock-take of EU and national progress towards climate neutrality.

A.H.: What do you feel is the biggest shortcoming of the proposed Climate Law?

C.C.: The most disappointing aspect of the Climate Law is that it locks us into more than a decade of low ambition on emissions reduction targets. The mechanism to allow the Commission to ramp up targets every five years will not come into effect until 2030. Furthermore, the proposed climate targets are not in line with latest available science: the EU should achieve climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest, and increase its 2030 target to at least -65% compared to 1990 (However, articles 2-3 only mention a 50-55% range). Worryingly, it also gives the Commission the right to amend the 2030-2050 trajectory through delegated act every 5 years.

A.H.: Beyond words, principles of local resilience and participation should be truly embedded in the climate law with a strong emphasis on energy sufficiency policies and a key (not optional) role for the multilevel dialogue platforms. What’s your take?

C.C.: I believe that investment and support in the short-term at regional level were necessary to ensure our climate neutrality. We must therefore include regions and cities in the dialogue; focusing too much on national levels isn’t enough. There are excellent initiatives like the Covenant of Mayors, amongst others, which are great platforms to promote exchanges between different cities and regions- as well as national actors. The Green Transition will not happen without their support.

A.H.: According to the “do no harm” principle, local and regional authorities should be able to count on a legal mechanism to report any obstacle (often posed by national measures or legislation) faced in the implementation of their climate neutral strategies. Do you support the introduction of such a ‘red flag’ mechanism?

C.C.: I think there should be closer alignment between our EU climate ambitions and our national targets; which should also better trickle down to the regional level. Ideally, there wouldn’t be any discrepancies from this approach however we know that that is not the case.  I would support such a mechanism of course if it contributed to enacting pro-climate programmes but we must also be careful not to add too many layers of bureaucracy or administration.

Ciarán Cuffe



Ciarán Cuffe


Member of the European Parliament


Dublin, Ireland