The European Commission’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050 was insufficient to prevent global warming above 1.5C, said environmental group Can Europe, urging more ambitious carbon reduction targets for 2030.
Others agreed. “The EU must dramatically increase its 2030 climate target. Climate scientists tell us the next 12 years are critical to keep global warming to 1.5C,” said Greenpeace in a tweet.
Both were responding to the European Commission’s publication of a new long-term climate strategy on Wednesday, where the EU executive urged net-zero emissions in the 28-nation bloc by the middle of this century, up from a previous target of 80-95% reduction on
Current policies would only cut emissions by 60% by 2050, said the EC, urging member states to replace the use of fossil fuels in power generation, increase electrification the transport and agriculture sectors, as well as further energy efficiency measures.
But it stopped short of proposing any new targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030, with the EU parliament and Council having already agreed on a 40% target.
On track for 45% cut
EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the EU was already on track to cut emissions by 45%, but that it was up to the member states and Parliament to agree on higher targets.
The European Parliament voted for a 55% target in October, but many member states, including the continent’s largest emitter Germany, are reluctant to raise the bar.
Berlin needed to lift its obstruction of efforts to sharpen the EU’s 2030 climate targets, said the German unit of environmental group WWF.
“It is outrageous that a once-climate leader is now rendering the rest of the European Union lame,” it said in a statement.
Others, however, welcomed the EU executive’s 2050 roadmap, including power industry lobby groups Wind Europe and Eurelectric – both of which advocated the increased use of electricity in other sectors.
62% renewables by 2050
“Europe has done quite well so far at getting renewables into electricity but much less well at getting them into industrial processes, buildings and transport … We believe we can increase the share of electricity in energy from 24% today to 62% by 2050,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of Wind Europe.
“If we do it with renewables, we can cut energy-related emissions in Europe by 90% by 2050. And this’ll bring many other benefits including improved air quality and reduced reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports,” he added.
Secretary general Kristian Ruby of Eurelectric said today’s announcement from the EC “clearly shows the central importance of electrification as the foundation for any deep decarbonisation efforts.”
“Accelerating the decarbonisation of electricity while expanding the use of energy carrier while require increased investment. Clear long-term signals will therefore be required to ensure investor confidence,” Ruby said in a statement.