Climate Policy Integration – Evidence on Coherence in EU Policies

In order to successfully tackle the challenge of limiting climate change it has to be recognised that climate policy is a cross-sectoral issue and needs to be firmly integrated in general and sector-specific policy areas that frame economic activity and societal development. Experience however shows that there is a divide between the need of addressing climate policy as cross-sectoral issue and short-term policy decisions that imply a low hierarchical rank for climate policy versus other policy areas. Still a big step is necessary to depart from climate policy as add-on policy area towards comprehensive integration. This paper addresses the topic of climate policy integration. We focus on horizontal policy integration at the EU level with respect to general strategic policy papers, energy policy and the EU's Multi-annual Financial Framework. Our qualitative appraisal confirms that while there is a high general commitment to climate change action on EU level, evidence on climate policy integration into specific policies analysed in this paper is not clear cut: While recent energy policy documents generally refer to climate change as a central motivation, the EU budget does not mention climate change as a budgetary priority. On the strategic level, the relationship of energy policy and climate policy is partly synergetic (e.g., the objective of a sustainable energy system) and partly conflicting (e.g., the emphasis on fossil fuels in order to ensure energy security). Specific energy policy documents generally reinforce climate policy targets. Climate policy integration is not reflected in the EU budget: no explicit resources are dedicated to climate change issues in the Multi-annual Financial Framework; in cohesion funding – to which a significant part of the EU budget accrues – climate-friendliness of the proposed projects is also no funding criterion. Quite the contrary, a large portion of cohesion funding is allocated to investment in road transport entailing adverse effects for climate policy.