Europe Poised to Ramp Up Emission Cuts With Ambitious Target

Source: By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2020

The European Union is likely to propose the most ambitious acceleration of its 2030 emissions target as as it ramps up efforts to slash pollution in the bloc through its Green Deal.

The European Commission will probably seek to accelerate pollution cuts to 55% compared with 1990 levels by the end of the next decade, according to two diplomats who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The current target, approved in 2014, is to lower pollution by 40%.

The commission is exploring scenarios to increase ambition to between 50% and 55% in pollution cuts as part of the Green Deal to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent. A proposal, scheduled to be unveiled next month, will be based on a study that takes into account fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The 27 nation bloc’s green overhaul would affect every area, from energy production to transport, agriculture and the design of cities. A revised emissions target at the upper end of the range is expected by researchers and policy experts, who highlight the determination by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to strengthen Europe’s role as the leader in the global flight against climate change.

The EU regulatory arm confirmed on Thursday it is working toward making a proposal in September, but declined to comment on the specifics. It has a policy of not commenting on draft legislation.

“I do not think it is widely understood just how ambitious this is,” Peter Vis, a senior adviser at Rud Pedersen Public Affairs in Brussels, said on the revised 2030 target. “It means a whole range of new and ambitious policies to be put in place at record speed – as well as a very significant strengthening of the policies we have. It will require tough decisions in tough times.”

A new 2030 target will be added as an amendment to an already proposed law to make the 2050 goal of climate-neutrality binding. To enter into force, it will need approval by the European Parliament and national governments. Talks among member states will be chaired by Germany, which holds a rotating presidency of the bloc until end-year.

The plan to significantly step up emission reductions is likely to fan tensions among the bloc’s member states given the national differences in energy sources, wealth and industrial strength.

“The biggest challenges will be to get countries like Poland to embrace stricter climate targets and measures,” said Bas Eickhout, a Green member of the EU Parliament, who favors a 65% goal for 2030.

A proposal on how to divide the burden of emission cuts among member states by 2030 will be made at a later stage, according to the commission. A review of relevant climate legislation, including a law on the EU carbon market, is planned for June 2021.

(Updates with timetable in final paragraph)