European NGOs: “EU’s expected climate strategy will not deliver on the 1.5° target”

(eceee news, 27 Nov 2018) Ahead of the European Commission’s proposal for a long-term EU climate strategy (expected Wednesday 28 November) WWF, Greenpeace and CAN Europe concluded that all the Commission’s pathways will fail to deliver enough savings to meet the 1.5° target as described in IPPC’s report.

The IPCC’s recent report concludes that the next 12 years are critical to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.  The Commission’s proposal for a long-term climate strategy will set the stage for negotiations among European governments about how much the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and what action it should take to make sure it achieves the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Commission is expected to set out a vision for a net zero emission Europe and the strategy will likely lay out eight pathways grouped into three different levels of emission reductions in the EU. The Commission suggests that the first group of pathways would deliver 80% emission cuts by 2050, the second would deliver 90% emission cuts by 2050 (and full decarbonisation by 2070) and the third scenario would deliver net zero emissions by 2050 by combining 95% emission cuts by 2050 and 5% of so-called carbon removals.

This range of options is not enough to achieve the Paris Agreement and match the urgency expressed in the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, WWF, Greenpeace and CAN Europe claims. While a net zero by 2050 scenario would be a significant improvement, it is not enough. To have a good chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, the EU would need to fully decarbonize already by 2040, the organisations claim. The three organisations further point out that the Commission’s proposal fails to propose a significant increase in the EU’s 2030 climate target, while the IPCC clearly states that emission cuts between now and 2030 are what will make or break the response to climate change.

Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director Tara Connolly said: “Climate change is a fire that has already killed many and is quickly getting out of our control. We need immediate and radical action to put out the flames. The Commission must deliver a climate plan for Europe that meets the scale of the challenge. The EU needs to be carbon-neutral by 2040 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which are literally a matter of life and death for millions around the world.”

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe director Wendel Trio said: “This strategy will show whether the Commission is treating the recent IPCC report with the urgency and seriousness it deserves. To align the targets with the requirements of latest climate science, the EU needs to reduce emissions to net zero by 2040 and significantly increase its 2030 target, even beyond the 55% some EU governments and the European Parliament are calling for. As a bare minimum, the Commission needs to clearly recommend the target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, over the other two, woefully inadequate options. Anything less than that would not stimulate global climate action at the upcoming climate summit COP24, where the EU is expected to be a frontrunner.”

Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office said: “Citizens across Europe are voicing their demand for climate action loud and clear. It is crucial to respond to these concerns. With a longer term vision and a commitment to a net zero pathway covering all sectors the EU will contribute to limit global warming to 1.5°C. However this needs to be done by 2040 if the EU wants to take into account the latest scientific advice from the IPCC report.”

The audio recording of a press briefing organized by CAN Europe, WWF and Greenpeace on 26 November is available here