The path towards a socially just Fit for 55 package

How have social elements of the Fit for 55 Package evolved in the context of the climate, energy, and cost-of-living crises?

Policy Study


Climate policies need to be socially just to be widely accepted and, therefore, effective in driving the transformation towards climate neutrality

In recent years, the deteriorating climate crisis has underscored the importance of urgent and ambitious action to reduce emissions. To this end, the EU has announced a climate neutrality target for 2050, and launched the European Green Deal.

In the current context marked by a severe energy price hike and the cost-of-living crisis, socioeconomic and environmental considerations have gained growing momentum. New climate policies could exacerbate existing inequalities if the costs and benefits of the transition are not equitably distributed. These current contextual conditions have increased the need for decision-making on climate policies to consider not only their impact on climate and environment but also on households, communities and society as a whole.

This policy study assesses how the inclusion of social issues in climate policies has evolved during the approximately 12-month period. It focuses primarily on the European Parliament negotiations on four climate policy files that could potentially have significant positive or negative social impacts:

1. the CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles

2. the Renewable Energy Directive (RED)

3. the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)

4. the Emissions Trading System (ETS) for buildings and transport

Certain social issues gained prominence during the parliamentary negotiations of the selected Fit for 55 package files. The results of the quantitative analysis reveal that each of the selected files has a slightly unique focus in terms of social aspects.

The following policy recommendations emerge:

  • The need to develop equally clear and unified definitions for numerous other social considerations was highlighted by several interviewees.
  • The potential benefits of the accelerated deployment of renewable energy and enhanced efficiency have become more prominent.
  • The need to ensure that the benefits from interventions, such as subsidies to improve energy efficiency and to increase renewable energy deployment by households, will accrue to those who need them most.

Social issues have increased in prominence during the parliamentary negotiations of the selected Fit for 55 package files, largely due to changing economic and geopolitical circumstances as well as the growing impacts of the climate crisis.

The EU’s Fit for 55 package could have the potential to drive a socially just transformation towards a climate-neutral economy. However, to deliver on this, it is more important than ever to strengthen solidarity among the member states and embed social considerations into the key climate policy files.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
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