EU Climate Law enshrines 2050 target but misses climate proofing

Updated 2030 emissions target due in September

The EU Commission today unveiled their climate law enshrining the target of climate neutrality across the entire EU by 2050. Because it is set for the entire European Union not every country or region needs to be climate neutral by the 2050 deadline IF more ambitious regions have achieved their goals earlier. For instance, Finland have announced a date of 2035 and Austria of 2040 for net zero emissions.

The climate law was a good opportunity to include measures on climate proofing investments at any governance level. If the Green Deal is going to have a coherent approach it needs to ensure that there are not ongoing investments that lead to future emissions increases thereby making the energy transition more difficult, expensive or longer.

The lack of updated 2030 targets was criticised by many, including Great Thunberg, who is in Brussels for a few days meeting with the EU Commission, MEPs and EU environment ministers. The updated proposal is due in September which many feel is too late to influence negotiations ahead of CoP 26 in November. The Commission will attempt to show that achieving 50-55% reductions can be done at a similar cost to the current 40% target due to rapidly decreasing costs in sectors like offshore wind.

One big surprise was an article that would allow the Commission to increase targets every five years after 2030 with less opportunity for opposition from the EU Council and European Parliament.

On the subject of public participation the Commission does promise to ‘facilitate an inclusive and accessible process at all levels, including at national, regional and local level.’ This will be done largely through the upcoming Climate Pact. The consultation on the Climate Pact is now online.

One addition that would be welcome is the inclusion of a ‘Red Flag’ process where cities can alert the Commission of member state’s decision that are detrimental to achieving the climate goals. This would be used in cases like France’s Multiannual Energy Programme that could halt Strasbourg’s geothermal plans.



Adrian Hiel

Publication date

March 4, 2020