The EU plans to be carbon neutral by 2050, but to get there it needs to pass two decadal milestones – each implying massive adaptation by industry and consumers.
The first of those has already been set: achieving at least a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with a 1990 baseline.
Now, the 27-country EU is tackling the next transition stage: its climate-fighting ambitions for 2040.
The bloc’s environment ministers yesterday launched the debate on that goal, ahead of the European Commission early next month presenting its impact assessment reports of different climate target scenarios.
Those developments will inform positions that will be crystallised in the next European Commission and European Parliament that will result from EU elections taking place in June this year, with a formal EU proposition to be formulated in late 2024.
The current EU climate commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra, has vowed a net emissions reduction of “at least 90%” by 2040.
The chairperson of the European Parliament’s environment committee, Pascal Canfin, said the 90% goal “would allow the same level of ambition and the same rate of reduction” as for the 2020–2030 period.
“Going beyond that seems complicated,” he said.
The EU’s European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change in a June report urged a reduction of 90–95% for the bloc to stay on its carbon-neutral trajectory.
To get there, it said there would have to be practically no carbon emissions from electricity production, an acceleration of renewable energy sources, at least a halving of oil imports and drastically reduced energy consumption.
Carbon Market Watch, a not-for-profit research organisation seeking to shape the EU’s climate stance, said current Green Deal legislation won’t achieve the targets set, noting that many of the already-agreed transitions are backloaded to 2030.