Climate policy framework

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To limit climate change, various climate and energy policies have been developed around the world.

These policies are based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an international agreement that aims to globally coordinate and organise climate change mitigation and adaptation. It was signed in 1992 by 165 countries of the world. The convention defines general goals and objectives for reducing climate change.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted – an agreement attached to the United Nations General Convention on Climate Change and intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2016, 195 heads of state signed the Paris Agreement, which replaced the Kyoto Protocol. It is a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and keep the rise in global average temperatures well below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels and to aim for no more than 1.5 °C. At this point, we have already caused the temperature to rise by about one degree. The forecasts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that we will already reach an increase of 1.5 °C in 2040.

At the end of 2019, when the European Parliament declared a state of environmental and climate emergency, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union must become a climate-neutral part of the world by 2050, one of the first regions to reach a net-zero GHG emissions level. Realising that this is today’s biggest challenge, the European Commission came up with the European Green Deal. It is a set of ambitious measures and initiatives for the coming years to achieve climate neutrality, for the implementation of which the European Commission is developing new policy strategies and plans, as well as proposing changes to existing laws and regulations.

“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. This will help us reduce emissions while creating jobs.” /President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen/

The European Green Deal emphasises that all sectors of the economy will have to be involved in achieving the goal and that the transition to climate neutrality must be fair and inclusive, actively involving citizens and receiving their support.

Currently, the European Union has set several goals for limiting climate change, which must be achieved by 2030. In 2021, the European Commission proposed to revise the Renewable Energy Directive, increasing the achievable share of renewable energy in 2030. Meanwhile, a review and increase of the energy efficiency targets is planned within the framework of the document package "Ready for the 55% target" (Fit for 55), by making changes to the energy efficiency directive.

Latvia, as a member state of the European Union, is bound by these goals, and in December 2019, the government of Latvia agreed to support the goal of the European Union of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and developed a strategy for achieving it.

Latvia's climate policy

Latvia’s climate policy is being developed in line with the climate goals set at an international and EU level, as well as Latvia’s long-term planning documents. In 2019, Latvia’s Strategy for achieving climate neutrality by 2050 was approved, and the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021–2030, which is due to be updated in 2024, was approved in 2020, raising the previously set targets. Latvia’s move towards climate neutrality requires that the guiding principles of low-carbon development are included in all sectoral planning documents, including:

Latvia also participates in emissions trading mechanisms to reduce emissions. Latvia has been a member of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) since 2005 and has been auctioning EU emission allowances since 2012, with the proceeds of the auctions redirected to the Emissions Trading Instrument. Since 2006, Latvia has participated in the international emissions trading system and redirected the proceeds to the Climate Finance Facility, which supports investment in climate-friendly projects.

At the same time, the Latvian National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change until 2030 was approved in 2019 to promote adaptation to climate change and mitigate the damage it causes.

At the regional level, several Latvian municipalities have developed sustainable energy and climate plans, mainly focusing on energy production for heating, insulation of buildings, public transport and street lighting, and the municipalities have integrated climate objectives into their development planning documents. A number of Latvian municipalities have joined the Covenant of Mayors, a European-level initiative to promote energy efficiency and sustainable choices of energy sources by municipalities.

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