29th Sep 2023

EU climate body sets 2040 emissions target

  • The European Commission is expected to propose an interim climate target for 2040 in the first half of 2024 (Photo: Tate Kieto)
Listen to article

The EU climate advisory board, an independent scientific body that gives guidance on EU policies and climate targets, on Thursday (15 June) recommended a net emissions-reduction target of at least 90 percent by 2040 (compared to 1990 levels).

The 2040 objective is an intermediate target foreseen in the EU's flagship climate law with the aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The 2040 target includes emissions from international aviation and intra-EU maritime transport (Photo: European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change)

In a scientific report, the advisory body suggested keeping the EU's greenhouse gas emissions budget within a range of 11 to 14 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalents between 2030 and 2050 — in line with the commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Experts argue that staying within these limits would require the 27-nation bloc to reduce emissions by 90 to 95 percent by 2040.

The target and the recommended budget include emissions from international aviation and intra-EU maritime transport.

But experts still argue that the starting point to achieve such a level of emission reduction is to hit the current 55 percent reduction target by 2030.

"If the EU is in a position to implement the 2030 target, then our proposed 2040 target can be can be achieved," said Ottmar Edenhofer, chair of the body.

"By making the right policy choices and embracing sustainable innovations, we can pave the way for a resilient future," he added.

To meet these ambitious targets, the advisory board report shows that the EU will have to scale up solar photovoltaics, wind power, and hydrogen energy as well as carbon capture and storage technologies.

Increasing substantially energy efficiency and the development of renewables and fuel alternatives like hydrogen, combined with the phase-out of coal electricity generation by 2030 and unabated gas-fired generation by 2040, could lead to a near fossil-free power sector by 2040 — which consequently will make the bloc less dependent on the controversial use of carbon-removal technologies.

Carbon-removal technologies have divided scientists and policymakers for years. In May, a United Nations climate body described these technologies as "unproven," especially at scale, pointing out their "unknown" environmental and social risks.

The rapid scale-up of carbon removal is required in all the assessed scenarios by the EU climate advisory board, while recognising that its deployment presents "risks and challenges" that have to be considered.

"Emission reductions are the priority, but sustainable carbon removals from both the land sector and novel technologies also require rapid scaling up, with careful management of associated risks and challenges," said Edenhofer.

Later this year, the EU body will come up with a report which will explore the implementation of carbon removals in the EU.

To achieve a fair contribution to the Paris Agreement goal, experts note that the EU should aim to reduce emissions by 95 percent by 2040, contribute to emissions reduction outside of the EU and pursue net negative emissions after 2050. Having negative emissions refers to the idea of removing more carbon from the atmosphere than emitted.

The European Commission is expected to propose an interim climate target for 2040 in the first half of 2024. But the final target will be outlined by MEPs and EU countries.

EU negotiators strike deal on climate 'law of laws'

The European Parliament and the European Council reached an agreement on the first-ever EU climate law - raising the current 2030 emission-reduction target from 40 percent to around 55 percent (including carbon sinks).

EU Parliament adopts 'holy trinity' of climate laws

The European Parliament adopted a new emission-trading system that includes homes, cars, aviation and shipping; a carbon border levy on imported goods and an €87bn social fund to protect people against energy poverty and higher climate costs.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.

Latest News

  1. Poland's culture of fear after three years of abortion 'ban'
  2. Time for a reset: EU regional funding needs overhauling
  3. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border
  4. EU Ombudsman warns of 'new normal' of crisis decision-making
  5. How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?
  6. Resurgent Fico hopes for Slovak comeback at Saturday's election
  7. EU and US urge Azerbijan to allow aid access to Armenians
  8. EU warns of Russian 'mass manipulation' as elections loom

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us