Historic agreement / Climate neutrality legally binding / 55% net target very ambitious / Limited accounting of sinks


In the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the EU institutions (Parliament, Council and EU Commission) agreed on the European Climate Law. With this law, the EU binds itself to reach climate neutrality in 2050 at the latest. The target for 2030 is set at 55%. As suggested by the Council of Ministers and the Commission, as well as by the largest political group in the European Parliament (EPP, Christian Democrats), it remains a net target, i.e. part of the target can be achieved through so-called sinks, such as the management of forests. However, MEPs specified this possibility and limited the amount of sinks that can count towards the target to 225 MT of CO2. The inclusion of sinks had been criticized in some parts because it is not certain whether, for example, forest growth will be stable in the coming years. The compromise makes it clear that the main effort will be from emissions reduction. At the same time, however, the Commission is asked to do everything possible to increase the potential of sinks well beyond the 225 MT, i.e. if things go well, the target may well be exceeded. Experts calculate a net 57%. At the same time, however, other sectors such as transportation and industry have planning certainty. With this compromise, the EPP group mainly defended its priorities.

The negotiator of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP-Christian Democrats) Dr. Peter Liese was very satisfied. "The agreement is historic. The goal of climate neutrality is now written in law. For the first time, the European Parliament was directly involved in setting the climate targets. Contrary to other claims, the 55% target is very ambitious, considering that we reduced 25% from 1990 to 2020 and now have to reduce 30% in 9 years, it is definitely something to be proud of. Climate protection is the most important task for the future. However, we should set ourselves targets that we can actually meet. Future generations have nothing to gain from targets that are only written on paper."

Liese welcomed the fact that sinks are included. "The performance of forest farmers and farmers who act climate-friendly must be rewarded more in the future. We also need more technologies to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. Our group has also ensured that an expansion of market-based measures, i.e. ETS, will be examined when the specific legislation is drafted. I see a realistic chance that a system, namely that ETS will also apply to transport and heating will be proposed by the COM. This is much more effective and cost-effective than relying only on command and control. The EPP has also pushed for the concrete targets for the sectors to be worked out in so-called climate partnerships with industry.," Liese said.

“It was high time for the agreement, as Europe has to show where it stands in view of the positive developments in the USA and China. We have given the Commission clear guidelines for preparing the legislative package to be presented in June. With this climate law, we are in any case more ambitious than the USA. The most ambitious target that is even under discussion in the USA is 50% measured against 2005 levels; measured against 1990 (EU target), this corresponds to 43% in the USA. In addition, it must be taken into account that the USA emits much more per capita than the EU," Liese concluded.

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