Global Warming and Energy Transition

Georgiana Olaru
Georgiana Olaru


The effects of global warming that cause a decrease in life expectancy on the earth’s surface have led to the development of new methods of producing electricity that affect the health of the planet less. Based on renewable sources, the implementation of these new methods of energy production at the European level is one of the new challenges for the European Union regarding global warming. In this respect, this paper deals with the causal relationship between global warming, climate change, and the legislative system, looking in particular at the legislative changes adopted and in the process of being adopted in the European Union in this field.

Climate change caused by global warming is a global threat and challenge to the environment and international societies which is primarily caused by human activity that generates greenhouse gas emissions. The production of electricity, by burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas, significantly influences global warming. Therefore, producing energy from alternative, renewable sources has become a new trend in energy policy to protect and conserve the planet and its ecosystems. Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature which results in changes in climate and living conditions on the earth’s surface. Energy transition is defined as the movement away from the current energy system, which uses non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels, to an energy system based on renewable sources that combine and respond to technological advances and industrial policy with social needs and expectations. According to data from EWEA, in 2015 the most significant surge in power capacity was observed in wind power installations (12,800 MW), constituting 44.2% of the total increase in new power capacity across the EU, followed closely by solar energy plants (8,500 MW), representing 29.4%[1]. With this said, a necessary response to the challenges of global warming is to shift from fossil fuels to alternative renewable sources, as this type of energy does not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in harmful amounts and does not consume the planet’s limited resources. To answer this issue, legislative framework plays a key role, therefore, EU Member States’ national regulations should align with EU policy. Where it does not, the European Union must intervene strongly through legislation with direct and immediate action, without the need for transposition.

Creating a European legislative framework for developing energy transition and aligning the national legislative frameworks of EU Member States to it, is an effective way to reduce greenhouse emissions and help combat global warming. According to data from Eurostat[2], since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), the share of renewable energy sources in EU energy consumption has increased from 12,5% in 2010 to 23% in 2022, which resulted in a decrease in fossil fuel energy consumption. Based on this, it can be said that a unified legislative framework ensures consistency and coherence in climate policies across EU Member States while providing a impetus for them to act on climate change.

The legal framework is an important tool for the implementation of public policies and legal objectives. The choice of directives as the regulatory mechanism at the EU level offers flexibility in national legislative frameworks, which in turn has several advantages. Flexibility allows member states to tailor the implementation of EU directives to their specific national context and ensures that policies are better suited to address local challenges and realities, leading to more robust and tailored outcomes. Moreover, a state is able to maintain and adopt national measures that are stricter than the Community standard, according to the stage of development the States’ society in comparison to the standards imposed by the European norm. In a perspective that best captures the common element without ignoring specific differences, the IPCC[3] refers to three such types of instruments adopted by states (and not only) in their policies to implement EU directives: economic, regulatory, and voluntary. Economic instruments tend to change the economic environment of the polluter in terms of costs and benefits to induce voluntary adoption of less polluting behaviour. On the other hand, regulatory instruments constrain behaviours with the possibility of sanctions through emission ceilings, rules limiting the amount of certain pollutants in a product, technology requirements, administrative authorization, and bans. Other international or voluntary instruments complement these policies by modifying the environment and sending information signals to the competent authorities to take the first steps.

Understanding the risks posed by the steep and rapid rise in temperatures, which is causing the climate to deteriorate in terms of quality of life and survival conditions around the planet, has led to the adoption over the last 3 decades (at international, European, and national level) of a set of regulations, mechanisms, and institutions aimed at preventing the major and irreversible risks of global warming. Environmental initiatives began to evolve with the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union and gave Community environmental action the status of Community policy. Subsequently, the Treaty of Amsterdam marked a major step forward by enshrining the principle of sustainable development as a fundamental objective of the Community, achieving a high standard of environmental protection as an absolute priority[4].

Energy transition is an economic and social development path that is mainly related to three factors: social expectations, technological change, and industrial policy. This transition concerns the goal adopted by the citizens of developed economies, who are becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental issues, the emergence of new technologies involving the supply of energy generated from water, wind, or solar rays, and the abandonment of fossil fuels and, finally, industrial strategies that use the regulatory instruments of the state to be implemented[5]. The European concept of energy transition faces several significant challenges, therefore social expectations, renewable technologies, and new industrial strategies must seek to maintain competitiveness and ensure the security of energy supply and global environmental balance. The unification of the energy supply system in all European countries using renewable resources is an unprecedented challenge in terms of expenditure and resources for the EU Member States. In response, in December 2019, the European Commission presented a new strategy for sustainable growth in all EU policy areas, the European Green Deal, to ensure a fair and inclusive environmental transition towards a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy. The primary aim is to disconnect economic expansion from resource use and restore environmental health for both citizens and nature. Ultimately, European institutions and EU Member States represent the key points of European regulation so in this regard they must take all necessary measures to meet the economic, social, and environmental objectives of the Union.

Another, potentially more significant and efficient, approach to decreasing greenhouse emissions and addressing climate change and global warming is for the Union to act via directly enforceable legislation which eliminates the need for transposition. Using Regulation as a legislative instrument has the advantage of direct applicability of measures adopted at the Union level in the Member States. Direct applicability offers the advantages of immediate applicability, removing the need for additional transposition which would delay the immediate application of the rules adopted, the advantages of uniformity and clarity, so that all Member States will be subject to the same requirements and standards, thus supporting EU cohesion and integration, which is an important tool for achieving common objectives. In that sense, for example, to help reduce emissions, the EU introduced a Regulation that sets CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and vans (Regulation (EU) 2019/631), considering that according to a report from the European Environment Agency[6] transport was the only sector where greenhouse gas emissions have increased in the past three decades, rising 33.5% between 1990 and 2019 so transport was responsible for about a quarter of the EU’s total CO2 emissions in 2019, of which 71.7% came from road transportation. Along the same line, in response to the threat of climate change, the European Commission adopted the European Climate Law by Regulation (EU) 2021/1119[7] which establishes the framework for achieving climate neutrality and amending Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 and (EU) 2018/1999 to help Member States to establish a multilevel climate and energy dialogue involving local authorities, the civil society, the business community, investors and any other relevant stakeholders and the public. Significantly, the Union’s immediately applicable legislation contributes to coherent, mutually supportive policies for adapting Member States’ policies to the challenges caused by climate change and global warming.

Ultimately, the climate emergency has gained widespread recognition at the European level, which has led to the establishment of a unique legal framework. While continually evolving, this framework highlights two critical imperatives: acknowledging the severity of the ecological and climatic challenges and taking immediate, measured actions to mitigate global warming and adapt to climate change impacts. What began as a demand from civil society has now become an obligation for both individual states and collective entities, compelling businesses to adjust their operations to align with European-level objectives in response to the challenges of global warming. The adoption of the EU’s new growth strategy (outlined especially in the European Green Deal) signifies an effort to foster a more robust model of sustainable development. Consequently, we are witnessing the emergence of a new paradigm of prosperity and sustainability in Europe, poised to replace fossil fuel imports with indigenous European technologies if the Green Deal succeeds. Seen in this light, the European strategy involves major responsibilities and decisive choices for the future development of European countries and the whole of Europe.

[1] M Ruszel et. al, Energy Policy Transition, Ignacy Lukasiewicz Energy Policy Institute Rzeszow 2017, p. 29.
[2] Shedding light on energy – 2023 edition – Eurostat (
[3] M. Duțu, „Dreptul climei. Regimul juridic al combaterii și atenuării încălzirii globale și adaptării la efectele schimbărilor climatice”, ed. Universul Juridic, București 2021, p. 98.
[4] E. M. Dobrescu, M.V. Ivan, Europenizarea. Procese și tendințe în dezvoltarea europeană, Ed. Universitară, București, 2019, p. 25.
[5] M. Ruszel, T. Mlynarski, A. Szurlej, op cit., p. 10.
[6] CO2 emissions from cars: facts and figures (infographics) | Topics | European Parliament (
[7] European Climate Law | EUR-Lex (

Georgiana Olaru
Faculty of Law, Academy of Economics Studies of Bucharest