Flemish agreement paves the way for widespread 'burden sharing' on climate action

Flemish agreement paves the way for widespread 'burden sharing' on climate action
Flemish climate minister Zuhal Demir. Credit: Belga

The Flemish Government has in principle validated the agreement between the country's climate and energy ministers on the so-called "burden sharing" mechanism. This is according to the Brussels Region, which has already taken similar steps.

The agreement concerns the distribution of revenues from the auction of emission rights through the European Emissions Trading System (ETS), climate responsibility, the guarantee of a minimum Belgian renewable energy target and international climate finance.

"This agreement is a step forward on an issue that has been blocked for years and is the result of constructive negotiations," said Regional Environment Minister Zuhal Demir.

In the absence of an agreement on this subject between the entities, just under €1.5 billion has so far been blocked in an account. This amount comes from the auctioning of greenhouse gas emission allowances for 2021 and 2022.

As there was not yet a cooperation agreement for the period 2021-2030, this money intended for climate policy remained unused. In a number of regions, however, these funds were already pre-financed and budgeted for investments in climate and energy transition.

Distribution to the regions

The following distribution key has been decided and corresponds to the one already applied during the previous agreement on the subject in 2015: Flemish Region (52.76%), Walloon Region (30.65%), Brussels-Capital Region (7.54%) and Federal Government (9.05%). Once all governments have validated the agreement, a formal cooperation agreement will be signed. It will then be submitted to the various parliaments for approval.

Ministers also agreed on the dissolution of the existing climate liability mechanism, which will require the approval of an amendment to the federal law on the subject. This mechanism was created during the sixth reform of the State to "empower" the regions in their climate efforts.It was never fully developed and never entered into force. By removing it, nearly €135.8 million can be released and distributed.

The Flemish Region will receive €60 million, the Walloon Region €37 million, the Brussels-Capital Region €10 million and the Federal Government €28.8 million.

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The next phase of the burden-sharing talks will begin in February 2023. Agreements will be reached in response to updates to the energy-climate plans of the various governments as well as the new European climate-energy regulations.

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