European Climate Foundation Annual Report 2018

EU climate leadership

The ECF is committed to just, equitable climate policies that work for all Europeans. Our network is most powerful when we advance policy solutions that improve lives and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our initiatives help ensure that the decarbonisation of Europe will increase prosperity, improve public health and create a better future for all Europeans. We are increasing our efforts to ensure that all of the policies we support through our partners protect the well-being of workers and of Europe’s most vulnerable citizens.

The political landscape

Last year, throughout much of Europe, a gathering wave of populist sentiment created new challenges and opportunities for our network. This wave crested in November as the Gilets Jaunes burst onto the streets of France’s towns and cities, reaffirming the need to focus on national and local policies that will be embraced by Europeans, and not make them feel attacked.

Throughout most of the year, ECF and our partners were able to navigate this political landscape by building alliances with groups outside of traditional environmental and climate advocacy. With public health groups and medical professionals we mobilised to lessen dangerous impacts from coal combustion and tailpipe emissions, as well as the growing health threats posed by heat waves and extreme weather events. We worked with unions to develop strategies to protect jobs and European competitiveness as we clean up mobility and plan for a just transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.

In 2018, the greatest progress on these fronts was made at the EU level. However, as we ramp up our efforts at the national level in 2019, we recognise the need to focus keenly on policies that can rapidly accelerate climate solutions while addressing the real and obvious economic and social needs of Europe’s citizens.

EU Climate leadership

Zoltán Massay-Kosubek

The support of the ECF has enabled EPHA to unleash its potential on air pollution and health: by developing a high-quality study on the health impacts of diesel pollution strengthened EPHA’s brand as a European health stakeholder who can credibly represent the health angle of transport pollution, the number one environmental health risk. The funding was also crucial to enable our resource-limited member organisations in countries of Central and Eastern Europe to develop the health narrative of diesel pollution in their countries and inject the health aspects into the national and local discussions by producing concrete evidence and visible events which would not have been possible without this support.

Policy Manager, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), managing the “Diesel & Health” project

Our work

Last year was a watershed for EU climate policy. EU policy is familiar territory for the ECF and our network of grantees. In 2018, many years of relationship-building, planning and coordination delivered critical, transformative results. A few highlights:

Greening Europe’s electric grid:  
In December, EU leaders agreed on a plan for 55% of Europe’s electricity to be generated by renewable energy resources by 2030. This target sits at the very limits of what was thought possible when the ECF was founded 10 years ago. The Clean Energy for All Europeans package, which includes this ambitious target, would not have been possible without energy markets reform throughout the EU, which ECF has been focusing on for years. Our network’s work on energy markets secured new rules that support the role of energy users in balancing a renewables-led system, putting the consumer at the heart of the transformation.

Driving clean mobility forward:
In January, the EU agreed more stringent CO2 emissions standards for passenger cars and light vehicles, with strict fines for automakers who don’t comply. The policy’s design encourages the mainstreaming of electric vehicles. The European Commission estimates that 30% of car sales will need to be electric by 2030 to meet the standards, while Volkswagen says it will be closer to 40%. When the ECF started working on transport 10 years ago, this mainstreaming of e-mobility was expected to only begin after 2030, but our grantees’ work to uncover and leverage the Dieselgate scandal has accelerated the process by a decade.

Saving money and cutting carbon through eco-design:
Without much fanfare, the EU’s eco-design policy has made good progress and is close to being approved. Though the negotiations went unnoticed by many, the policy will deliver an outsized punch in terms of energy savings—leading to energy savings equivalent to 5% of all EU electricity consumption. All told, the eco-design policy measures adopted will help avoid consumption of as much electricity as is produced by 63 medium-sized coal power units. By 2030, these policies will cut €20 billion per year from European energy bills. ECF grantees, such as ECOS and the European Environmental Bureau, played a key role in keeping the debate honest and well-informed.

Deep industrial decarbonisation:
Last year, the ECF started targeting some long-neglected, carbon-intensive sectors that are vital in the pursuit of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Most notably, we launched ECF’s industry initiative to tackle deep industrial decarbonisation. Even in its earliest stages, our partners undertook thought-leadership on breakthrough industrial low-carbon technologies and the climate mitigation potential of the circular economy. The debate has shifted from “if” industries can decarbonise to “how will we do it?”

Dr. Lars Grotewold

The post-2020 CO2 regulation for cars and vans is a major driver to accelerate the necessary transition beyond petroleum in the transport sector. The ECF has been at the heart of the campaign for ambitious efficiency standards from the very beginning, successfully mobilising and coordinating a wide range of NGOs to advocate for the best possible outcome in the political debate. Most importantly, the ECF managed to extend support for clean electrified mobility beyond the environmental community to other key groups, such as consumer and health organisations, progressive companies and unions, by showing that the societal benefits of a low-carbon transition go far beyond the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Director Centre for Climate Change, Stiftung Mercator
Other highlights

National mobilisation

Europe's global leadership

Sustainable finance