Belgium among worst performers regarding climate policy

Belgium among worst performers regarding climate policy
Climate march in Brussels earlier this month. Credit: Lauren Walker

Belgium scored badly in this year's Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), dropping from place 40 last year to 49 in this year's ranking – nearing the lowest performers.

Since 2005, the CCPI has been tracking and monitoring the climate protection performances of 60 countries and the European Union as a whole, which together are responsible for 92% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, it has highlighted Belgium's worsening performance.

"Belgium’s performance again fell compared with the previous CCPI, as was also the case last year. The country this time drops nine ranks and is now 49th," the report stated.

In doing so, it lags behind the European average and performed worse than countries such as China or India. Meanwhile, its neighbours, including France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, are all in the top 20 in terms of climate policy.

Belgium performs especially poorly in the Energy Use category, where Belgium dropped 13 places. It also received low ratings when it comes to Renewable Energy sources and Climate Policy categories.

Internal cooperation needed

Although the Belgian National Recovery and Resilience Plan that was endorsed by the EU included ambitions of investments and reforms geared towards climate action, the European Commission did note the plan "lacks reforms towards better climate policy."

Meanwhile, a judgment made by the Brussels Court of First Instance during Belgium’s Climate Case, in which the plaintiff argued that "the authorities were not fulfilling the promises made in their respective climate policies," stressed that the regions are failing to collaborate on the issue.

Contributing experts to the report, who represented organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF, stated in a press release: "Our country did not experience any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during the 2014-2019 legislature and the reductions observed in 2020 are due more to the COVID-19 crisis situation than to structural action by our governments."

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The organisations argued that especially the Flemish Government, which recently came to an agreement for its climate plan but later asked Europe to lower the CO2 reduction targets set for Belgium, is holding the country's overall climate ambition back.

"Despite the efforts being made by Wallonia and Brussels, Flanders is completely obstructive and is acting like a toddler who just doesn’t feel like doing anything," Zanna Vanrenterghem, Greenpeace Belgium’s representative for the Klimaatcoalitie, told The Brussels Times ahead of COP26, which the organisations stressed should be used to work on an intra-Belgian burden-sharing agreement.

But despite all these obstacles, the CCPI found that the dynamics are changing in Belgium and the rest of the world.

"Many countries have set ambitious targets... we are now at the beginning of the decade of implementation," Jan Burck of Germanwatch, one of the CCPI authors, said.

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