Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Higher EU climate target 'economically feasible'

  • Researchers highlight that there is “no credible pathway” to climate neutrality by 2050 without higher contributions from countries like Poland or the Czech Republic

The EU's plan to reduce the bloc's greenhouse emissions by 55 percent by 2030 is "technically and economically feasible," according to a new report published on Monday (24 August) by German think-tank Agora Energiewende and environmental research institute Öko-Institut.

In September, the European Commission will present a revised EU 2030 emissions reduction target aligned with its 2050 climate-neutrality target set in the Green Deal.

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  • The European Commission will propose increasing the 2030 emission-reduction target to between 50 and 55 percent (Photo: European Environment Agency)

To do so, the EU executive is expected to propose increasing the 2030 emission-reduction target from the existing 40 percent goal to between 50 and 55 percent.

The report points out that the reform of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) scheme, which covers emissions from power plants, energy-intensive industry, and commercial flights, could be key to reduce emissions quickly.

To deliver the 55 percent target, researchers estimate that the emissions covered by the EU carbon market should fall to 61 percent from 2005 levels - a bigger cut than the 43 percent reduction the ETS is set to deliver by 2030.

Additionally, emissions from sectors not covered by the EU carbon market, such as buildings, agriculture, and waste, should also drop by 47 percent from 2005 levels.

However, member states remain divided about a higher EU 2030 target, as central and eastern European countries have expressed concerns about different starting positions and possibly deepening inequalities.

Still, researchers highlighted that there was "no credible pathway" to climate neutrality by 2050 without higher contributions from countries like Poland or the Czech Republic, which have tried to water down calls for higher climate ambition in the EU.

Moreover, the report indicates that the recently proposed €1.85 trillion stimulus package does not provide "adequate safeguards" to ensure that the EU budget will help poorer member states ramp up investment in buildings, power, transport, and industry.

"It is crucial that, as part of the EU budget agreement, dedicated EU facilities are established to accelerate climate action in critical areas, with a special focus on poorer member states," the report says.

Another proposed option would be a new EU-wide system of auctioning emissions permits not covered by the ETS, with proceeds directed to help low-income EU countries.

Meanwhile, green groups have previously warned that increasing the 2030 climate target from 40 percent to between 50 and 55 percent is still not aligned with the Paris climate agreement and efforts to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees - calling for at least 65 percent in reduction targets.

Socialist Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland, who is the European Parliament's climate law rapporteur, announced earlier this year that she will try to push for a 65 percent emission-reduction target by 2030.

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