Commission launches plan for Energy Union
On 25 February the European Commission launched their framework strategy for a “Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy". This sets out, in five interrelated policy dimensions, the goals of an energy union and steps needed towards EU funding for energy efficiency and a new renewables energy package.

The Energy Union is one of the top priorities in President Juncker’s political guidelines, and Vice-President Šefčovič is in charge of this area. The goal of the Energy Union is to give EU consumers secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy, and this should be achieved with an ambitious climate policy at the core.

The Energy Union communication states that Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) is included in the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework reduction targets and that national targets for these sectors should be set. In 2016 the Commission will develop a legislative proposal on how to include LULUCF in the 2030 Framework. For 2015-2017 the Commission plans to develop a Renewable Energy Package, including a new Renewable Energy Directive for 2030, support schemes and a bioenergy sustainability policy.

Alongside the launch of the Energy Union, the Commission launched a communication setting out a vision for a global climate agreement in Paris in December. The vision states to be “for a transparent, dynamic and legally binding global agreement with fair and ambitious commitments from all parties.”

The communication also translates the decisions taken at the European Summit in October 2014 into the EU's proposed emissions reduction target (the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC) for the new agreement. The EU’s contribution to the 2015 Paris agreement will be a binding, economy-wide domestic reduction target of ‘at least 40%' in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To achieve the overall target, sectors covered by the EU emissions trading system(EU ETS) will have to reduce their emissions by 43% compared to 2005 by 2030. Emissions from sectors outside the EU ETS will need to be cut by 30% below the 2005 level.

The communication clearly outlines that the Paris Protocol should require emission reductions in all sectors, including forestry, agriculture and other land uses. It states that a comprehensive accounting framework should be developed, with an activity or land-based approach, for emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry.

The Member States will now consider the communications and provide their position in June.

As this is one of the big mainstream policy developments, influencing the whole forest carbon and wood energy related policies and actions, private forest owners and all other players of the forest and forest-based sector are encouraged to follow these subjects intensively.