Preparation of national climate and energy plans must be transparent and participative
Public awareness and understanding are important components of an effective response to climate change. The preparation process for national climate and energy plans would be an outstanding opportunity for public involvement and engagement on national and/or regional level.
Member states are preparing their national energy and climate plans (NECPs) to ensure the EU meets its clean energy and climate targets. NECPs cover a ten-year period, from 2021 to 2030. The planning period is coming to the end, and the Member States have to submit their final plans to the European Commission until 31th December. The Commission and the Energy Union Governance Regulation underline the importance of effective public participation and regional cooperation in the development and implementation of NECPs, ensuring that the views of citizens and businesses as well as regional and local authorities are heard.
In 2019, Justice&Environment compiled a questionnaire concerning the planning process of the first draft NECPs focusing on transparency and public participation on national level. We covered nine EU countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Member states involved in our research have only partly met the requirements of the Energy Union Governance Regulation. Transparency was not sufficiently ensured, the draft NECPs, their background documentation and the timetable of the relevant procedural steps were not available in majority of the involved countries. The intensity of the public consultations and involvement varies from country to country, but in general, the public consultations were assessed as very poor to more inclusive. The average score regarding both transparency and public participation in the NECP preparation process is 2 in a rating scale from 1 to 5.
In addition to this, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) procedures are ongoing in a few countries or coming in 2020. We have formulated a few recommendations in order to have more participative SEA and NECP planning in the future, which we will publish soon.