EU sets historic target to reduce emissions by 2040 but transport sector puts target at risk

(Transport and Environment, 6 Feb 2024) New 90% target gives European carmakers, airlines and shipping companies the investment certainty that clean technology is here to stay, whilst Europe can sigh a breath of relief at the prospect of becoming energy independent.

The EU’s plan to reduce its emissions by 90% by 2040 marks a historic day for the climate. But, the announcement out today makes no mention of a phase out of oil and gas, even though this is imperative to meet the target. Last December, the COP28 agreement committed to transition away from fossil fuels. The EU played an essential role in getting this language adopted, stating clearly it would get rid of unabated fossil fuels.  Yet the Commission’s new communication still projects 46 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) of unabated oil and gas generation, which it says will mostly be used for long distance transport in 2050. That would be enough to continue powering 900,000 transatlantic flights, adding a needless 140 million tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere.

“Today, the EU showed the world how you can turn real climate ambition into powerful industrial policy. Industry players at home and outside of Europe can turn to the EU for production and sales of green tech, as they can be assured of a growing market and predictable demand. But this headline goal will fall flat if it doesn’t come hand in hand with a phase out of fossil fuels and new laws cracking down on the oil majors. Europe will desperately try to meet a 2040 goal whilst still feeding on fossil fuels. But you simply can’t outrun a bad diet”, Sofie Defour, climate director at T&E, explains.

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Transport and Environment, 6 Feb 2024: EU sets historic target to reduce emissions by 2040 but transport sector puts target at risk