The European Commission presented its recommendations for the EU climate target for 2040 on Tuesday (February 6). It recommends a 90 percent reduction in emissions compared to 1990 and paves the way for reducing industrial emissions.
Based on a detailed cost-benefit analysis, the commission “recommends a 90 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2040,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. Report of the European Union Commission in Brussels.
It said the 2040 climate target “will enable European industry, investors, citizens and governments to make decisions this decade to help the EU achieve its climate neutrality target by 2050”.
Today's communication contains no legal obligations for EU countries or industry. It simply opens a debate that could lead to a proposed law after the European elections in June. Conservative and right-wing parties are expected to make strong gains in European elections.
“After the European elections, the next commission will present a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and member states to agree on EU climate legislation,” the commission said.
The suggested 90 percent target for 2040 confirms earlier drafts of the proposal seen by Euractiv. This corresponds to the lower end of the target range recommended by the European Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change.
A lower emissions target of 80 percent or 85-90 percent by 2040 was considered but ultimately rejected. The commission said it would “significantly delay the introduction of new technologies from 2041-2050, and therefore not achieve climate neutrality by 2050”.
In contrast, the 90 percent target “comes with accelerated investments in the deployment of novel low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen production through electrolysis, carbon capture and utilization and industrial CO2 extraction between 2031 and 2040.” , it continues.
However, deploying these technologies is costly, requiring annual energy investments of around €660 billion over the period 2031-2050, equivalent to 3.2 percent of the EU's GDP. Expenditure on the transport sector is estimated at around 870 billion euros per year, which is 4.2 percent of GDP.
But inaction can also be costly. According to the European Commission, climate-related economic damage in Europe over the past five years has been estimated at 170 billion euros. Reducing emissions and transitioning to clean energy will help reduce Europe's dependence on fossil fuels, which is projected to exceed four percent of GDP by 2022.
Focus on implementation
According to Simone Tagliapietra of the Brussels think tank Bruegel, the 90 percent target proposed by the Commission today represents both continuity and revolution.
“Continuity, because only formal implementation of the already agreed 'Fit for 55' measures until 2030 and continued application until 2040 will bring the EU closer to the target,” said Tagliapietra.
“Revolutionary because it will require massive decarbonisation of hard sectors such as buildings and transport. To be socially acceptable and politically feasible, it will require strong new EU action in the coming years, especially the new Green EU Fund, to deliver the massive investments needed to reach the target.”
However, achieving the 90 percent target will be challenging.
“It is not true to say that the job is almost done,” said Peter Lees, a CDU lawmaker from the European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament.
“The most important thing for me is that the commission is more focused on international developments than ever before,” Lees told reporters on Tuesday. Lease's recommendation is to set up a Working Group on International Carbon Markets to deal with inquiries from abroad into the CO2 Boundary Charge (CBAM) recently adopted by the EU.
The commission is “inundated with inquiries about how to avoid carbon border fees. Apparently it works. But at the same time they don't have the staff to do it,” Lees says.
The commission is aware of this and says “the starting point is to fully implement existing legislation to reduce emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.”
EU countries are currently not on the right track. Current national plans estimate a 51 percent reduction in emissions.
“The current update of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) is an important element in monitoring progress, and the Commission works with Member States, industry and social partners to facilitate the necessary actions,” the Commission said.
Another important aspect in the debate on the climate target for 2040 is the potential for drastic CO2 reductions. It primarily concerns agriculture and forestry or new industrial technologies such as direct air capture (DAC) or bioenergy.
“Achieving the recommended target of 90 percent requires both emission reductions and CO2 removals,” the commission said. “This requires the use of CO2 capture and storage technologies and the use of captured CO2 in industry,” it continues. The commission points to the industrial CO2 management strategy published on Tuesday, which aims to improve CO2 supply chains and transport infrastructure.
“Organic capture should be targeted at hard-absorbing sectors where alternatives are not economically feasible. CO2 removal will be necessary to generate negative emissions after 2050,” the EU Commission explained.
According to the Commission's calculations, the EU's remaining greenhouse gas emissions in 2040 should be 850 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent and CO2 removals (from the atmosphere through land-based and industrial CO2 extraction) should reach up to 400 million tonnes of CO2.
But activists warn that this could be a very dangerous policy. Ahead of the Commission's announcement, environmental groups said linking carbon removal to the EU's current emissions reduction target, which applies to regulated industries, risks undermining companies' incentives to reduce emissions. A phenomenon known as “quenching inhibition”.
“This could delay emissions reductions or be replaced by promises to eliminate or sequester future emissions,” Carbon Market Watch and other environmental groups warned in a statement. Opinion articles On the Uractive.
[Bearbeitet von Nathalie Weatherald]