European Union to reduce carbon emissions by 55% of 1990 levels by 2030

Friday, April 23, 2021

The September 25, 2020 Global Climate Strike in Aachen, Germany.
Image: Bluecloud9.

On Wednesday, the European Union (EU) set a new goal to cut carbon emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030 and reach zero net emissions by 2050, increasing the reduction target set in 2014, which was 40% by 2030 and 80-95% by 2050.

The EU Climate Law, agreed after 14 hours of negotiations includes the establishment of a 15-member independent body to advise on proposed climate policies and increased investment in "carbon sinks". According to members of the European Parliament (MEP) those will ensure 57% net reduction target is in place. This claim has been disputed by senior policy officer for climate and energy at the European Environmental Bureau Barbara Mariani, who says the measures equal a 52.8% cut in actual emissions.

A September 2020 press release by the European Commission (EC) promised "[f]ollowing broad public consultation and thorough impact assessments, the Commission will come forward with the corresponding legislative proposals by June 2021", including, according to the BBC News a limit on CO2 removal that counts toward the target, encouraging member states to actually reduce carbon emissions instead of merely removing them. "Adopting the new target in time would allow the EU to communicate its higher ambition to international partners well ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow and set the bar for others to follow", the press release read.

This decision means the EU is to spend at least 30% of its 1.8 trillion long-term budget on the concerns related to the climate. Poland has adopted its own climate strategy. According to Reuters, Poland is the only EU member state to refuse a pledge to climate neutrality, instead aiming to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030. The country relies on coal for 80% of its electricity, but will move towards renewable energy and its first nuclear power plant, Reuters reported.

The EC president Ursula von der Leyen said the decision leads "the EU on a green path for a generation". Criticising this decision, MEP Michael Bloss said, "[w]e fought hard but achieved little", as well as saying the law was a "big disappointment." Director of Climate Action Network Europe Wendel Trio said "[t]he 'at least 55% emission reduction target for 2030' is not in line with the Paris Agreement's ambition to limit temperature rise to 1.5C by the end of the century", adding the law was "rushed" and "not the kind of climate law that will help the EU to lead the global efforts to tackle climate change".

MEP and chair of the European Parliament's environmental committee Pascal Canfin said "it was not possible" to convince the member states "to change the wording 'at least 55 net'", and while "parliament was obviously ready to go even further", he said "the compromise found is ambitious: we are going to do two and a half times more in nine years than what we have done in the last 10 years in Europe."

According to The Guardian under current measures the EU is expected to reduce emissions by 46% by 2030. The EC's press release said between 1990 and 2019, green house gas emissions fell by a quarter.

Per multiple reports, the United Kingdom set its target to 78% by 2035.