Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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MEPs and stakeholders call to raise climate ambitions even further

The European Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate on the EU climate law with 392 votes for, 161 against and 142 abstentions.

The new law aims to transform political promises that the EU will become climate neutral by 2050 into a binding obligation and to give European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for the transformation.

“The adoption of the report sends a clear message to the Commission and the Council, in light of the upcoming negotiations,” noted Parliament rapporteur Jytte Guteland, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The European Commission recently proposed to increase the emission reduction target from 40 per cent to at least 55 per cent. MEPs raised the bar even further, calling for a reduction of 60 per cent in 2030, adding that national targets shall be increased in a cost-efficient and fairway.

“If we invest hundreds of billions of euros in rescuing our economy from this pandemic, we must not throw money at the old economy,” stressed the Commission’s Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans. “We must guide our societies to a cleaner and healthier future – one that our children can embrace with hope, not fear.”

MEPs insisted that both the EU and all member states individually must become climate-neutral by 2050 and that thereafter the EU shall achieve negative emissions. The Commission must propose by 31 May 2023 a trajectory at EU level on how to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. It must take into account the total remaining EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions until 2050 to limit the increase in temperature in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

“We expect all member states to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and we need strong interim targets in 2030 and 2040 for the EU to achieve this,” continued Mrs Guteland. “I’m also satisfied with the inclusion of a greenhouse gas budget, which sets out the total remaining quantity of emissions that can be emitted until 2050, without putting at risk the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Such a more ambitious position was welcomed by the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) which considered the proposal as very good news for businesses. Indeed, a higher EU climate ambition provides investors and businesses with a clear direction and more certainty to plan their investments and strategic choices, that have to be directed towards the goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

“This is a major step in the right direction to achieve the EU carbon neutrality goal and a green economic recovery,” commented Monica Frassoni, EU-ASE President. “MEPs showed to EU leaders the level of ambition that is needed. The path to meet this target is clear: focusing on energy efficiency and renewables is the best way to go for the Union and its Member States. This should be reflected in all upcoming investments and funds, starting from the MFF and national Recovery and Resilience Plans.”

Now, the Parliament is ready to start negotiations with member states once the Council has agreed upon a common position.

In the meantime, a unique gathering of businesses, investor groups, local and regional authorities and NGOs published a joint letter calling on the EU leaders to agree on the most ambitious target level.

Signed by the EU-ASE and other 46 organisations, representing over 2,700 cities, 330 regions, 62 trillion euros in the investment portfolio, more than 800 companies and 330 NGOs, the joint letter expressed the desire of European stakeholders to have the EU’s 2030 climate target substantially increased. 

European stakeholders encouraged Member States to achieve increased climate target both by strong emission reductions as well as decisive action to remove emissions through Nature-Based Solutions in line with the need to protect Europe’s biodiversity. On the other hand, European cities, regions, businesses, investors, NGOs and local communities underlined that only ambitious climate action can avert the direst future costs of climate change impacts and provide a unique societal and economic opportunity to achieve a socially just transition for all European regions.

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