Von der Leyen ups ante on EU emission cuts

European Commission president plans to increase the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 55 percent has been met with a mixed response from environmentalists and industry.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

18 Sep 2020

In a 90 minute address to MEPs on Wednesday, von der Leyen revealed new plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by at least 55 percent compared to 1990 levels, substantially increasing the EU’s initial 40 percent target.

The Commission also plans to reflect this new ambition in its proposal for a European Climate Law.

Reacting to the announcement Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the Earth Europe sounded a note of concern, saying, “The Commission’s proposal to pull up emissions cuts to 55 percent still shirks Europe’s responsibility to do our fair share of climate action.”

“Europe largely caused the historical greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere today, that are harming communities, we must go fully fossil free to avoid devastating warming. It’s irresponsible that the EU still has not ruled out subsidising more fossil fuels like gas.”

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said, “This substantial increase in emission reductions in the short term is a welcome step provided the urgent response needed to avert dangerous climate change.”

“This timely and strong new proposal from the Commission, which still needs to be approved by the 27 member states, should generate the international momentum needed to keep the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement in reach. We call upon member states to adopt and improve this proposal as soon as possible” Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe

“However, the new target must be considered as a baseline since science requires more emission cuts, and it needs improvement to focus on real reductions.

Under the Paris Agreement, all countries have to submit new, substantially increased climate targets for 2030 by the end of this year.

Trio said, “This timely and strong new proposal from the Commission, which still needs to be approved by the 27 member states, should generate the international momentum needed to keep the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement in reach. We call upon member states to adopt and improve this proposal as soon as possible.”

Trio said the proposal is still not in line with the latest science available, adding, “this is a key milestone to ensure the EU can become the first climate-neutral continent in the world but the 55% goal must be seen as a minimum baseline, as much more needs to be done to avoid dramatic climate change and its growing economic costs.”

Jori Ringman, the Director General of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi), said, “The target is the most significant milestone in the EU’s drive to realise its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral continent by 2050.”

“It is a challenging transition for any industrial sector but, if achieved, it will impact the food Europeans eat, the cars they drive and the homes they live in. Our sector contributes to all that with green and resilient solutions made in Europe with European technology for European consumers”.

“The ‘how’ questions are the most important for us right now. The Commission needs to answer how we’ll mobilise green investments, ensure enough cheap green energy for our industries and assure a global level playing field. How can we bring society at large on board?” Business Europe Director General Markus Beyrer

More reaction to the announcement came from Business Europe Director General Markus Beyrer, who said, “The ‘how’ questions are the most important for us right now. The Commission needs to answer how we’ll mobilise green investments, ensure enough cheap green energy for our industries and assure a global level playing field. How can we bring society at large on board?”

Beyrer added, “We will carefully check the impact assessment to understand whether the commission puts forward a credible business plan to reach this ambition cost-effectively and to take account of the economic logic.”

Evelyne Huytebroeck, co-chair of the European Green Party, said the commitment to cut the EU's emissions was. “A welcome step but does not answer the science nor the emergency and scope of the climate crisis. We must now rapidly develop concrete plans to achieve this absolutely crucial and minimal target. “

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