Wednesday, 16 December 2020
On 11 December 2020 European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen announced EU members will collectively cut emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 2030.
In October this year, an agreement had been reached on net zero emissions for 2050, enshrining the target into law. However, 2030 targets were a prickly issue, and a decision was postponed up to the latest announcement.
The new target represents an ambitious increase on the previously set 40% by 2030 target, although not as progressive as the 60% cut that also had been previously proposed by many in the EC.
The EC has reported that emissions had dropped 24% between 1990 and 2019. During the same period, the collective economy grew by 60%.
The pathway towards the new targets relies not only on increasing uptake of renewable energy types, but also increases in efficiency for all sectors. This will require massive investments, particularly in countries highly dependent on fossil fuels who have been the most vocal proponents of the new targets.
Conversely, the UK appears to be even more ambitious than the EU, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowing to cut emissions by 68% in 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The driver for the reduction targets is the Paris Agreement, reached in 2016 which aims to reduce carbon levels in order to keep global warming under 2 degrees above pre-industrial revolution levels.