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Commission raises climate ambition and proposes 55% cut in emissions by 2030

As revealed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the European Union address on September 16, the European Commission presented today its plan to reduce EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This level of ambition for the next decade will put the EU on a balanced pathway to reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, and Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, gave a press conference on the Commission’s plan to step up the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 (photo courtesy Dati Bendo/EC – Audiovisual Service).

According to a statement, the new target is based on a comprehensive Impact Assessment of social, economic, and environmental impacts. The Assessment demonstrates that this course of action is realistic and feasible. This raised ambition also underlines the EU’s continued global leadership, ahead of the next UN climate conference (COP26).

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 percent 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, said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

The Commission has now tabled an amendment to the proposed European Climate Law, to include the 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 55 percent as a stepping stone to the 2050 climate neutrality goal and invited the Parliament and Council to confirm this 55 percent target as the EU’s new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement and to submit this to the UNFCCC by the end of this year.

The Commission 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 (ETS);
  • adapting the Effort Sharing Regulation and the framework for land use emissions;
  • reinforcing energy efficiency and renewable energy policies;
  • strengthening carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for road vehicles.

Focus on green recovery

The new 2030 climate target will help to focus Europe’s economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will stimulate investments in a resource-efficient economy, promoting innovation in clean technology, fostering competitiveness, and creating green jobs.

Member States can draw on the EUR 750 billion NextGenerationEU recovery fund and the EU’s next long-term budget to make these investments in the green transition. To support the necessary investments, the Commission has also adopted the rules for a new EU Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism, to make it easier for the Member States to work together to finance and deploy renewable energy projects.

In this crucial moment for our health, our economy and for global climate action, it is essential that Europe leads the way to a green recovery. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to take action now. Today, Europe is showing the world how we will enhance the wellbeing and prosperity of our citizens in the next decade as we work towards our goal of climate neutrality by 2050, said Frans Timmermans, EVP for the European Green Deal.

Alongside the 2030 Climate Target Plan and its Impact Assessment, the Commission has also adopted an assessment of Member States’ National Energy and Climate Plans for 2021-2030. The Commission’s assessment shows that the EU is on track to surpass its current 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 40 percent, in particular thanks to ongoing progress in deploying renewable energy across Europe.

To reach the new goal of 55 percent, the EU will have to further increase energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy. This will now be subject to further consultation and analysis before legislative proposals are presented by the Commission in June 2021.

“Based on existing policies and the plans of Member States, we are on course to surpass our current 40 percent 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,” said Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy (photo courtesy Dati Bendo/EC – Audiovisual Service).

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