The EU’s current 80-95% emissions reduction objective for 2050 laid down in the Low-Carbon-2050 Roadmap is an outdated target range and even more problematic, the EU’s legally binding 2030 climate policy framework is rated to be far from being sufficient to bring the EU on track with the long-term temperature targets of the Paris Agreement (PA). Now, with the 1.5C-special report of IPCC (IPCC, 2018), the global community has a profound and up-to-date scientific basis for progressive in-depth deliberations on future climate policies at hand. And so does the EU.
A new long-term climate strategy delivering the European Union’s contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement objectives should consider the following key issues:
- Economy-wide greenhouse gas-neutrality by 2050 at the latest: The European Union must reduce GHG emissions on its own territory by at least 95% compared to 1990.
- Rapid action until 2030 is required, a more ambitious emission reduction by 2030 than currently decided on is needed. Cumulative emissions until 2050 and beyond must be minimized in order to keep temperature rise as low as possible. Linear emission reduction pathways will not be sufficient.
- The fast switch from fossil to renewable and sustainable energy is the key to minimizing cumulative emissions and avoiding lock-in effects. The transformation of the energy system including improvement of energy efficiency is of utmost importance to achieving the Paris Agreement objectives. A fully decarbonised energy system needs 100% energy supply based on renewable energies. This requires a sustainable system without nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage as well as crop-based bioenergy. To comply with this requirement the electricity production needs fully based on renewables well before 2050 in order to contribute to the decarbonisation through sector coupling.
- Achieving GHG-neutrality may require compensation of a small amount of residual emissions: The long-term strategy should establish an approach for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere or additional reduction measures outside the EU.
- Intermediate and long-term reduction goals are to be achieved domestically. Therefore the EU should use market mechanisms that may be developed under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement only to contribute to additional climate ambition abroad.
- Implementation of the strategy by high-level EU bodies: A high-level engagement by and political ownership of the European Council is needed, because, the implementation will have far-reaching implications for the transition of European societies and economies to become GHG neutral by mid-century. Provided this, the new long-term climate strategy should also exploit synergies and address possible trade-offs with the respective Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Submission by the German Environment Agency regarding the strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reductions