European Commission to choose more ambitious 2030 climate goal: Document

The European Commission is proposing that the EU's net emissions in 2030 be at least 55 per cent below 1990 levels. PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - The European Commission will propose that the European Union sets a 2030 target of cutting its net greenhouse gas emissions by "at least 55%" against 1990 levels, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.

Already well on the way to meeting its current climate target of a 40 per cent cut by 2030, the EU wants to set a more ambitious near-term target in order to achieve its flagship goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and cement its status as a global leader in efforts to curb catastrophic climate change.

The document, which could still be amended further before publication, says the Commission will propose a target for the EU's net emissions in 2030 to be at least 55 per cent below 1990 levels.

The EU executive, asked about the new target, said it did not comment on leaked documents.

It will propose the new 2030 climate target next week.

The goal needs the approval of national governments and the European Parliament who are split over how ambitious it should be.

A "net" emissions target can be achieved both by cutting greenhouse gas output from sectors such as industry and power generation, and using forests or carbon capture technologies to remove emissions from the atmosphere.

The EU's 2050 'net zero' goal means that, by that date, most sectors would have slashed their greenhouse gas output to near zero, and emissions removals would be used to balance out any remaining emissions production.

Researchers and climate campaigners have said that in the near term, using emissions removals to meet targets should be a last resort, and the priority should be to stop producing planet-warming gases in the first place.

"Due to questions of permanence and accounting, avoiding emissions is better for the climate than removing carbon," German think-tank Agora Energiewende said in a report last month.

Greenpeace policy adviser Sebastian Mang said using removals would be an "accounting trick" that could make the goal sound more ambitious than it actually is.


Germany will have to raise the price for carbon dioxide emissions from transport and heating buildings to meet the ambitious climate goals the European Commission is expected to announce, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday.

Germany is the EU's largest economy.

Altmaier, an ally of Angela Merkel, said the chancellor's business-friendly conservative party had disappointed many voters by being slow to embrace stricter climate goals.

Germany holds a general election next year in which the ecologist Greens are expected to make big gains.

"We have let down many people for whom climate protection is important," Altmaier said, adding his ministry would develop a plan to help Germany drastically cut emissions.

Merkel said on Thursday that Germany will have no choice but to accept the targets set by the Commission, warning that decarbonising Europe's biggest economy will not be easy.

Merkel's government last year had to raise the price for carbon dioxide emissions from transport and heating buildings to 25 euros (S$40.50) per tonne, a plan expected to go into effect next year, after the Greens and environmentalists said an initial price of 10 euros was too low.

Under the plan the carbon price would rise to 30 euros in 2022, 35 euros in 2023, 45 euros in 2024 and 55 euros in 2025, while a price corridor of 55 to 65 euros will apply in 2026.

Speaking at a news conference, Altmaier suggested those prices will have to increase, but declined to give details.

Merkel's government last year approved a package to help Germany achieve its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 55 per cent of their 1990 level by 2030.

In addition to the introduction of a carbon price starting in 2021, the plan foresees Germany phasing out nuclear and coal energy, boosting investments in renewables, and developing a hydrogen (H2) strategy.

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.