The European Commission aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% over the next decade, with €750bn available through the NextGenerationEU recovery fund to invest in Europe’s green transition.
The target, which will position the EU to become climate neutral by 2050, is based on a comprehensive Impact Assessment thoroughly examining the effects of reducing emissions on the EU’s economy, society and environment.
It concludes that a ‘balanced, realistic, and prudent pathway’ to climate neutrality requires an emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Current greenhouse gas emissions target
An assessment of Member States’ National Energy and Climate Plans for 2021-2030 shows that the EU is on track to surpass its current 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 40%. This is largely due to ongoing progress in deploying renewable energy across Europe, with indications that the share of renewable energy in the EU could reach 33.7% over the next decade.
The EU will have to further increase energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy if its goal is to be met and this will be subject to further consultation and analysis before legislative proposals are presented by the Commission in June 2021.
To support the necessary investments in the green transition, the Commission has adopted the rules for a new EU Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism to make it easier for Member States to work together to finance and deploy renewable energy projects.
Economic recovery from COVID-19
As well as promoting innovation in clean technology and creating jobs, the 2030 climate target will help to focus Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “We are doing everything in our power to keep the promise that we made to Europeans: make Europe the first climate neutral continent in the world, by 2050. Today marks a major milestone in this journey. With the new target to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, we will lead the way to a cleaner planet and a green recovery. Europe will emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic by investing in a resource-efficient circular economy, promoting innovation in clean technology and creating green jobs.”
Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, added: “Based on existing policies and the plans of Member States, we are on course to surpass our current 40% target for 2030. This shows that being more ambitious is not only necessary, but also realistic. The energy system will be at the heart of this effort. We will build on the success story of the European renewables sector, look at all the tools at our disposal to increase our energy efficiency and lay a firm foundation for a greener Europe.”
Climate neutrality goal
The Commission has tabled an amendment to the proposed European Climate Law, to include the emissions reduction target as a stepping stone to its climate neutrality goal and invited the Parliament and Council to confirm the target as the EU’s new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, which will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by the end of this year.
It has also set out the legislative proposals to be presented by June 2021 to implement the new target, including revising and expanding the EU Emissions Trading System, adapting the Effort Sharing Regulation and the framework for land use emissions, reinforcing energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and strengthening CO2 standards for road vehicles.