Climate change mitigation - National Responses (Belgium)
- Climate change
In the Belgian federal system, policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are mapped out at different levels of responsibility based on the division of powers between the federal government and the regions. Each level of power establishes its own priorities for environment and climate policy. Coordination bodies have been set up to harmonise and create synergy between the policies implemented by the federal government and the three regions, the National Climate Commission being the most important. The general context for the preparation of climate change policies and measures is consequently determined by the plans established by the federal and regional authorities setting out policy objectives and strategies.
Through the cooperation agreement for the national burden sharing dated 8 March 2004, each federal entity has been assigned a target for reducing emissions by comparison with 1990: -5,2 % for the Flemish Region, -7,5 % for the Walloon Region and +3.475 % for the Brussels-Capital Region. The balance, still in accordance with Europe's burden sharing, allows Belgium a target of -7,5 %, which means a reduction of 2.442 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year for the period 2008 to 2012 at the national level.
Under the aegis of the National Climate Commission, a national climate plan has been set up. This is based on the various regional plans and federal measures. It is called ‘Belgium's national climate plan for 2009 to 2012 – an inventory of the measures in place and the state of play as of 31 December 2008’. This plan is based on six sectoral strategic axes. These are to optimise the production of energy, to use energy rationally in buildings, to exert influence on industrial processes, to develop sustainable transport modes, to foster sustainable management of agricultural and forestry ecosystems, to reinforce efforts having regard to waste management and five auxiliary strategic axis that are more horizontal. These are to step up research efforts on the subject of climate change, to create awareness among Belgian protagonists of the fight against climate change, to reinforce direct involvement of the res publica in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, to implement flexibility mechanisms and to integrate the climate dimension into policy on development aid. Each of these axes has its corresponding series of concrete policies and measures. Within the framework of chapter 5 of the fifth National communication on climate change, these axes have been slightly modified.
The public authorities are nonetheless endeavouring to promote the development of renewable energy as a response to the issues of security of energy supplies and polluting emissions, and with a view to enhancing the value of local resources and creating jobs. In time, renewable energy is expected to constitute a substantial share of primary energy generation. Directive 2001/77/EC on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources establishes an indicative target of 6 % of electricity from renewable sources in gross electricity consumption, to be attained by 2010. Various wind energy projects in particular are being implemented. In 2007, renewable energy (hydraulic, wind, biomass and recovery fuels) represented 5,4 % of primary electricity generation.
At regional level a number of climate plans have been implemented. There is the climate policy plan for 2006 - 2012 for the Flemish Region, the Air-Climate plan for the Walloon Region and the air and climate plan for 2002 to 2010 for the Brussels-Capital Region. Some of these plans have already been assessed and structures are already in place for preparing the next plans.
A summary of policies and measures for the reduction of GHG emissions at the federal and regional levels is available in the Belgium’s Fifth National Communication Climate Change under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (http://www.climatechange.be/IMG/pdf/NC5_EN.pdf, especially see the overview table of policies and measures, p73-87).
 See http://www.lne.be/themas/klimaatverandering/klimaatconferentie/vlaams-klimaatbeleidsplan-2006-2012/flemish-climate-policy-plan-2006-2012
 The ‘Plan Air Climat’ for the Walloon Region: http://airclimat.wallonie.be/
Some of the most important measures in the Flemish Region include: financial support for electricity generation from renewable energy sources (RES) in the energy supply sector; financial incentives are foreseen for the rational use of energy (RUE) and RES in the residential, commercial and agricultural sector (incl. glasshouse cultivation); imposition of energy and indoor requirements (Energy Performance Decree standard) to tertiary and industrial buildings; covenants to reduce N2O emissions from nitric acid production and caprolactam industry; reform of the road fund tax and the tax on entry into service of road vehicles (Ecoscore); the improvement and promotion of public transport and the promotion of bicycle use.
Many measures to reduce the emissions coming from the residential and tertiary buildings - which are at the origin of approximately 70 % of the greenhouse gas emissions in Brussels -Capital Region - have been taken. In addition to the implementation of the directive 2002/91/CE on energy performance of buildings, these measures relate, for example, to the training of specialists in the energy management of buildings, creation of services of information and conceptual assistance for professionals and inhabitants (energy saving, renewable energies, cogeneration), the concept of tools aiding in decision-making regarding energy savings, calls for projects for exemplary buildings (eco-construction or energy), support of actions of energy management at the local level. Many financial incentives for the realisation of investments with regard to insulation, improvement of energy performances and development of renewable energies have also been developed.
The transport sector is also the object of many measures relating in particular to management of parking, development and implementation of transportation plans for companies and big events, development and promotion of public transport and other alternatives to the car or measures against the most polluting vehicles, etc. Partial internalisation of external costs of transport is also being studied together with the other two regions.
An integrated plan ’Energy-Air-climate 2010-2020‘ is currently under development.
The Walloon Air-Climate plan was adopted by the Walloon Government on 15 March 2007. It contains a series of quantitative objectives and 104 actions for all sectors aiming to reduce air pollution and help in the fight against global warming for 2020. In January 2009, EUR236 million were dedicated to the implementation of certain measures of the Walloon Air-Climate plan. Most of the measures involve public authorities, the tertiary sector, land use management and transports. Some actions are aimed at the residential sector, agriculture, forestry, energy and industry, the latter having already achieved a great deal as part of branch agreements and the ’Emissions Trading’ system. The actions which have been defined are mainly geared towards: 1) research, technological innovation and studies of alternative solutions, 2) promotion of cleaner production and consumption (subsidies granted by the government of the Walloon Region for reducing energy consumption or using renewable energy, revision of the automobile tax system…), 3) information and awareness-raising among professionals and private individuals, 4) the example set by public authorities (transport, buildings management etc.), and 5) planning, management and evaluation of tools (insulation standards, sectoral conditions, emissions quotas etc.).
A study on adaptation to climate change is underway and the results will guide the development of the Walloon future plan for adaptation to climate change.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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