16 September 2020
The European Commission has proposed increasing its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to “at least” 55 per cent by 2030.
The announcement was made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today as part of her State of the Union speech which outlined how the bloc will rebuild in a post-pandemic world.
Previously, the EU had committed to reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.
Reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent over the next decade, according to Ms von der Leyen, will put the EU on track to becoming “the first climate-neutral continent” by 2050.
“I recognise that this increase from 40 to 55 (per cent) is too much for some, and not enough for others. But our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can manage this,” she said.
In order to meet the target, Ms von der Leyen noted the European Green Deal will be a “blueprint to make that transformation” and that every sector will have to play its part.
If other countries were to follow the EU’s lead, she added, “the world will be able to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius”.
Highlighting that the bloc’s emissions reduction of 25 per cent since 1990 happened alongside a 60 per cent rate of economic growth, Ms. von der Leyen stressed that meeting the target is possible, saying, “We can do it. We have already shown we can do it.”
Bringing the EU along her mapped out path to climate neutrality also comes with a “solemn promise to leave no one behind in this transformation” and a Just Transition Fund will “support the regions that have a bigger and more costly change to make”, she said.
ENVI Committee’s recommendation
The figure announced today is lower than the recommendation brought forward by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, who endorsed a 60 per cent target just last week.
However, in order to keep global temperatures in line with the 1.5 C warming goal of the Paris Agreement emissions would need to reduced “by at least 65 per cent”.
This was the figure initially proposed by Jytte Guteland in April, an MEP from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, who argued that climate targets must align with “what scientists said is necessary”.
The 65 per cent target is also aligned with the equity principles within the Paris Agreement that are based on how much warming a state has already produced as a result of fossil-fuelled industrialization.
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