WWF Report: Hall of Shame, the EU's worst policies for the climate

Posted on 23 October 2023

Ahead of the European Commission’s own assessment expected next week, WWF’s latest report puts the spotlight on those EU policies which are the most inconsistent with EU climate goals. This ‘Hall of Shame’ includes, among others, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the failure to tax aviation fuel, the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the sustainable finance taxonomy and the free permits to pollute given to industry under the Emissions Trading System (ETS).
Under the EU Climate Law, the European Commission is required to assess, every five years, whether “Union measures” are consistent with reaching climate neutrality and, where inconsistencies are found, to “take the necessary measures in accordance with the Treaties”. The Commission is expected to publish its first assessment on Wednesday, as part of the State of the Energy Union. 

In advance of that, and based on a number of stakeholder workshops, WWF has identified many EU policies in the power, industry, transport, and agriculture and land use sectors that are actively hindering climate action, or are in need of significant strengthening. In the report WWF goes into more depth on those policies, and highlights the ones which are the most counterproductive when it comes to reaching climate neutrality.

“The European Union has made steps in the right direction with the Fit for 55 package, but many loopholes still remain. And in some cases EU policies are actively hindering efforts to reach climate goals. The European Commission needs to take action as soon as possible to fix such policies, which are undermining efforts to cut emissions and are a stain on EU climate leadership,” said Michael Sicaud-Clyet, Climate & Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

“If we are to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, all EU policies should be pulling in the same direction. At the moment it is as if the EU is insulating its roof with the windows open. We expect the Commission to apply the legal requirements of the Climate Law fully and objectively, to take a good hard look at EU policies, and ensure that they’re consistent with the climate neutrality goal,” he added.

Florian Cassier
Climate Communications Officer
+32 479 33 92 11

Notes to the editor

The European Climate Law provisions referred to in the press release are Article 6.2 (a) and 6.3 of the law.

The worst policies WWF identified in its report are:
  1. EU Bioenergy Policies: While these policies are meant to cut emissions, they incentivise the burning of trees and crops for energy, contributing to climate change rather than mitigating it. 
  2. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): Large parts of the CAP encourage the production and consumption of animal products, contribute to soil carbon emissions, and/or obstruct land restoration and carbon sequestration.
  3. Energy Taxation Directive: The existing directive hinders the effective taxation of aviation kerosene, hampering efforts to reduce emissions in the aviation sector.
  4. Sustainable Finance Taxonomy: The inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear in the taxonomy diverts resources and money from genuinely low-carbon, fast and cost-effective emission reduction technologies.
  5. Free permits to pollute under the EU ETS: This practice contradicts the polluter pays principle, resulting in negligible changes in industry emissions and significant lost revenues.
  6. “Flexibility” (i.e. offsetting) between the Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector and the sectors covered by the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR): LULUCF net removals are not equivalent to fossil fuel emissions, as they are challenging to measure and may not be permanent.
All annexes to the report can be found here.