The Case for a Climate Law in Romania

The Governance Regulation (2018) and the European Climate Law (2021) of the EU align the block with the climate commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, by setting a target of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, as well as establishing implementation and reporting mechanisms. At national level, 11 EU Member States have also adopted climate framework laws, which legislate national emissions reduction targets and outline the mechanisms to achieve them in the long term, while 5 others also legislated climate action, but less comprehensively. Climate framework laws vary greatly between countries but share some common core elements, such as long-term emissions reduction targets, internal coordination mechanisms, monitoring and reviewing systems, independent scientific advisory bodies and provisions for public participation. Despite being relatively recent instruments, there is evidence of positive impact.

Currently, Romania does not have a comprehensive climate policy framework and relies mostly on transposed EU legislation to formulate targets and plans. Institutional responsibilities on climate change tend to be scattered, with insufficient coordination, weak accountability mechanisms, and a lack of long-term planning based on scientific evidence.

Despite these challenges, recent policy activity shows that Romania can be proactive in elaborating climate policy; for example, the national coal phaseout law, passed in 2022, and the inclusion of an objective of climate neutrality by 2050 in the national long-term strategy (LTS). This momentum should culminate by setting Romania’s climate objectives into law through adopting a national climate framework law.

A climate framework law in Romania should include:

  • Legally binding, clear, short- and long-term emissions reduction targets (economy-wide and sectoral), aligned with the ambition of climate neutrality by 2050 and the trajectories of the EU ETS, the Effort Sharing Regulation, and the LULUCF Regulation. These should be periodically revised, while the law should include a provision against backsliding.
  • A set of economy-wide and sectoral planning instruments (including, but not limited to the NECP and LTS), complete with a commitment to periodic revision and updating. The climate law should refer to the implementation of the Governance Regulation and strengthen the effectiveness of the NECP and LTS, as a complementary instrument for achieving the Union’s targets. Additionally, the law could require the development of sectoral plans or strategies for sectors that have received less attention such as industry and agriculture.
  • A carbon budget (economy-wide or sectoral) to ensure that interim targets are met. These budgets should cover a limited time frame (e.g. 10 years with 5 years revision) and be progressively reduced to reach the emission reduction targets.
  • Clear institutional responsibilities to ensure policy coherence. For this purpose, the responsibilities of the Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change could be expanded to provide coordination for the ministerial obligations for implementation of the climate framework law and the sectoral strategies. The Ministries of Economy, Environment, Energy, and Development could all delegate a team or department responsible for reporting on achievement of sectoral targets and implementation of the sectoral provisions of the climate law.
  • A commitment to establish an independent, well-resourced scientific advisory body to guide policymaking and keep governments accountable. This group would be appointed by the government, on a fixed term, and would be made up of independent experts from academia, research institutes, think tanks, the public or private sector that have extensive expertise in different topics related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It should have a dedicated secretariat with own staff and resources to conduct preliminary research and analysis. The independent scientific advisory body could be shaped after the model of the Economic and Social Council, which must be consulted by both the Parliament and the Government when adopting legislation. Its role could include issuing biennial progress reports to Parliament and providing opinions and recommendations on proposed climate policies, which the government would be obligated to consult.
  • A clear MRV system, including periodic impact assessment, reporting minimum once every two years and using evidence-based impact assessment methodologies, including for socio-economic impact. The Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests could be the designated institution to apply the MRV system, while the independent scientific advisory body would evaluate the results and recommends further action. The law should include provisions for mandating the government to undertake additional action if intermediate targets are found to not be met. 
  • Obligations for inclusive and transparent stakeholder engagement, including in periodic impact assessments. The law should make provisions to improve and strengthen public participation on climate plans and law revisions, including making documents readily available for comment, actively engaging civil society, and setting up a permanent stakeholder engagement platform. To make sure that the stakeholder input is taken into consideration, their recommendations could be integrated in the report of the independent scientific advisory body, to which the government must issue a response.
  • Obligations for future policies in all areas to address climate change concerns, and for energy and climate policies to incorporate the assessment of socio-economic impact and just transition measures, in line with the provisions of the climate law. This type of climate mainstreaming could be applied by requiring ministries to develop sectoral roadmaps for reducing emissions of their sectors, with the overarching goal of climate neutrality.
  • A clear indication of resource needs (including funding and administrative capacity) for enforcing and implementing the climate framework law, drawing from the examples from countries such as France or Spain.

luciana miu - epg
Luciana Miu, EPG Head of Clean Economy

Luciana Miu is the Head of Clean Economy at Energy Policy Group. She holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Systems from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Energy Efficiency of Residential Buildings from the Imperial College London. Before joining EPG, Luciana worked for the UK Parliament and for the British Government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), as well as a consultant for Climate-KIC and London City Hall.

Contact: luciana.miu@enpg.ro

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