The current EU pledge to reduce CO2e emissions by 40% against a 1990 baseline was set in 2016, in line with the Paris Agreement’s headline target of keeping the increase in global average temperature below 2C.

However, new aims for renewable power sourcing and energy efficiency, which were finalised earlier this year, mean the bloc is now considering setting a higher emissions reduction ambition of 45%, according to EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete.

“Both new targets would de facto mean that the European Union would be in a position to raise the level of ambition of the NDC [nationally determined contributions] and increase its emissions reduction target from the current 40% to slightly over 45% by 2030,” Cañete told the Ministerial on Climate Action in Brussels on Thursday (21 June), as noted by edie’s content partner EurActiv.

One of the new targets to have facilitated the proposed emissions reduction alteration came in the form of the Clean Energy package, which sees all EU member states commit to a new energy efficiency target of 32.5% by 2030. The package additionally outlines a political process defining how EU member countries and the Commission should work together and how nations should cooperate to achieve its goals. Moreover, new rules require all EU member states to draft updated energy and climate plans by the end of 2018.

Other recently updated policies include the revised Renewable Energy Directive target, which this month increased the proportion of energy the EU has committed to source from renewables by 2030 from 27% to 32%, and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive.

Cañete said the updated ambitions collectively marked “major deliveries” in the bloc’s transition to green energy, adding that the Clean Energy package “will translate into the right investments to modernise the EU economy and energy systems”.


The Energy Union Commission’s vice president, Maroš Šefčovič, echoed Cañete’s sentiments, adding that the policies “will enhance transparency for the benefit of all actors and investors”.

The increased emissions reduction target looks set to be finalised after the European Commission Ministerial returns from summer recess, as the support of the European Council is required to make the alteration formal. Whether the UK will commit to the same goal post-Brexit is yet to be confirmed.

Towards net zero

The proposal of a higher EU-wide emissions cut commitment comes as negotiators struggle to get Member States’ governments to sign up to a policy vision of reducing emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

The likes of France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Portugal have all taken this pledge, but uptake of the commitment is reportedly lagging.

However, a cross-party group of senior MPs and peers are urging the UK Government to commit to a net zero target, citing concerns over air pollution, rising energy costs and damage to natural habitats.

The group made the appeal after Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced in April that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) would be instructed to provide formal advice to the government on how the UK’s emissions targets should be adjusted to align with its Paris Agreement commitment.

Sarah George

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