EU leaders meeting in Brussels today agreed on the European Commission proposal of a 2030 climate target of 55%, up from the outdated 40% target. This agreement comes timely before the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement this Saturday, but falls short of the scale of emission reductions needed for the EU to fairly contribute to limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C.
In September, the European Commission put forward a proposal to reach at least 55% net emission cuts by 2030 in its Climate Target Plan, a much-needed milestone to allow the bloc to become climate neutral by 2050 at the latest.
Despite being a significant step upwards from the previous, dramatically low 40% goal, the new pledge does not bode well with the latest available science and the United Nations’ equity principles requiring the EU to commit to at least 65% emission cuts by 2030.
Also, contrary to the previous target, the new one is a “net” target and includes carbon sinks from land-use and forestry sectors. This means that emitting sectors, including transport where emissions have been still on the rise lately, will need to decarbonise less to reach the agreed target. As the Commission indicates itself in its 2030 Climate Target Plan, if the EU is successful in implementing the Commission’s biodiversity objectives, carbon removals could represent up to 5% of emissions. In this case the real emissions reduction target would be as low as 50%.
Commenting on the outcome of the European Council, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:
“Reaching an agreement on the new climate target is a vital and necessary step to help limit the escalating climate crisis. At the upcoming Paris Agreement anniversary, the EU now needs to ensure that it convinces other major emitters to foster their climate ambition for 2030 ahead of COP26 next year.
But given the profound existential threat we are facing, EU leaders cannot allow overly high emissions to continue for another decade and will need to go beyond the agreed target. Science is clear that at least 65% emission cuts is the way forward. The European Council has given the green light for the EU institutions to go ahead with the upgrade of key EU legislation next year. It is now in the hands of the European Parliament and Council to bring all EU legislation in line with increased ambition and the goals of the Paris Agreement.
We regret that leaders have agreed to set up emission reduction objectives against nature protection objectives and call upon the Commission to ensure all future legislation keeps a strict divide between these two processes.”
Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 483 62 18 88
Note to editors:
The Council conclusions are accessible here.
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.