EU Commission to back 90% emissions cut for 2040 climate target

Brussels: The European Commission is set to recommend the EU reduces its net greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2040, from 1990 levels, to ensure the bloc can reach net zero emissions a decade later, sources familiar with the matter said.

The European Union is drafting its first 2040 climate target, to bridge the gap between its existing goals to cut net emissions 55% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

With EU Parliament elections in June, the new target is set to test political appetite to continue Europe’s ambitious green agenda – which is facing pushback from some governments and industries concerned about the cost, even as climate change unleashes more destructive heat, floods and wildfires across Europe.

The European Commission will present its recommendation for a 90% emissions reduction target for 2040 on Feb 6., the sources said.

They said the EU presentation would lay out the mounting costs climate change is inflicting on Europe, and the benefits a 90% emissions reduction by 2040 could yield – including by slashing Europe’s bill for imported fossil fuels.

Brussels will outline options to aid each sector in meeting the 2040 goal – with a key focus on supporting the competitiveness of European industries, twinning public and private funding to support low-carbon manufacturing projects and jobs as Europe races to compete with China and the U.S., the sources said.

While the Commission is set to recommend the 2040 climate target next month, it will be the job of the new EU Commission formed after the EU elections to make a final proposal to fix the goal into law.

Passing previous EU climate targets has required unanimous approval from the 27 EU country leaders.

A 90% emissions cut by 2040 would just align with the 90%-95% target recommended by the EU’s official climate science advisers.

On Thursday, the advisers urged the EU not to put the brakes on its climate policies, but to consider new actions to reach the 2040 goal – including by putting a price on emissions from farming after 2030.

Countries including Denmark, Poland and Bulgaria have signalled openness to a 90% emissions cut target for 2040.

Others have appeared more cautious. Hungary’s state secretary for environment Aniko Raisz on Monday declined to confirm if the country would support a 90% emissions cut, and said the 2040 target must be “realistic”.