16.06.2023 | Scientists publish report in support of European Green Deal
According to a report published on 15 June 2023, the European Union will have to achieve a nearly complete reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, if it wants to meet its 2050 climate neutrality goal as defined under the European Green Deal.
The report by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, a group of 15 climate scientists recommends keeping the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions budget within a limit of 11-14 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases for the period 2030-2050. To achieve this, the EU will need to reduce its emissions by 90-95% by 2040 as compared to 1990 levels. The scientists examined over 1’000 emission pathways to identify the scenarios that best align to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
According to the Boards Chair, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the report underscores the need for bold and transformative actions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The report furthermore suggests for the EU’s climate mitigation efforts to be undertaken both inside and outside the EU in order to make the EU’s climate action feasible and fair. As a first step, the EU should focus on realising the current 55% reduction target by 2030, as foreseen by the EU’s climate law, which entered into force in July 2021. The EU climate law also enshrines the obligation for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050, to set itself a target for 2040 and introduces the legal basis for setting up the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change in the first place. The EU’s climate law’s intention is to make climate policies a permanent element of all EU policies.
In parallel to the publication of the report the European Commission is running a public consultation in order to gather opinions with view to setting the 2040 climate goals; according to the EU’s climate law, the European Commission has to propose these goals in 2024. The consultation – to which European energy associations such as, e.g. Eurelectric are participating – will close on 24 June 2023.
Whether the EU’s will stay on course with its climate strategy will have to be reassessed at the end of 2024, when a series of relevant national and European elections have taken place. The upcoming Spanish election on 23 July 2023 will be as crucial as the Polish election taking place later this year. The current governments of both countries have taken strong positions in favour of – Spain – and against – Poland – the European Green Deal. It will be interesting to see, which side will prevail. The upcoming European election in June 2024 could also lead to a realignment of power in the EU – both via the European Parliament itself and via the 27 European Commissioners, who are proposed by their respective national Governments and have to be confirmed by the European Parliament. After the European election – i.e. in the second half of 2024 – Hungary will likely take over the EU’s Council Presidency: a country that has shown criticism towards the European Green Deal in the past. Hungary will then hand over the EU’s Council Presidency to Poland as of 1 January 2025. And then there will be a US election on 4 November 2024 which could once again stir up the debate about the Paris Agreement.