Member States get behind net zero climate goal ahead of EU summit | WWF
Member States get behind net zero climate goal ahead of EU summit

Posted on 17 June 2019

Achieving zero net emissions in Europe is critical. Over half of Member States are now on board.
Brussels, Belgium - 17 June 2019

What’s happening?
European heads of state and government are meeting on 20-21 June. They are due to discuss the draft EU long-term climate strategy and its possible net zero target for 2050, with more Member States coming out recently in support of such a target (see table here for national positions and explanations on net zero as of 17 June).

The summit will also focus on the EU’s priorities for the next five years - the ‘Strategic Agenda’ - and who is to get the top EU jobs for the next five years - with a particular focus on the position of European Commission President.

Why does it matter?
Achieving zero net emissions (sometimes called “climate neutrality”) in Europe is critical for a sustainable future. WWF considers that to be in line with the Paris climate agreement, the EU should be at zero net emissions by 2040. So far, 16 of the 28 Member States are officially on board.

This is EU leaders’ last official opportunity to agree on a higher long-term climate target before the UN secretary general’s Global Climate Action Summit in September, where as many as 80 countries are expected to raise their climate pledges.

Agreeing on a timeline for net zero this week would send a strong signal of the EU’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and its leadership on climate change to other countries - as would signalling that the EU will subsequently increase its 2030 target accordingly. It would also set a good course for the to be appointed European Commission President who must be able to show a clear agenda on climate, environment and sustainability before being elected by the European Parliament.

Climate action is a major part of achieving a sustainable Europe. The overall direction will be set by the Strategic Agenda, which will define what the EU focuses on from 2019 to 2024.

It is crucial to get it right: temperature rise, pollution, and biodiversity decline is already putting our safety, health and economy at risk. There is huge public support for action for climate and nature, and there are massive economic, health and social benefits to be reaped from it. EU leaders must help shape a sustainable Europe, through a strong common and positive vision, before it is too late.

Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
“As we stare down the barrel of a climate catastrophe, we need all EU countries to put their weight behind a net zero climate target for 2040. It is no good half-heartedly supporting it one day then staying silent the next.

We need clear political leadership to show that the EU means business on climate action. This will help everyone from policy-makers to companies to individuals to take the decisions that will enable us to tackle the climate crisis.

The upcoming EU summit is also a chance to put in place an EU Commission president and a Strategic Agenda which can drive the EU towards a sustainable future. Sustainability needs to be at the forefront of EU leaders’ thinking and policy actions must be taken to tackle climate change, reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030 and fully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Without decisive action, a thriving future for Europe will not be possible.”

Member State positions on EU net zero goal for 2050 (as of 17 June 2019)

More information

What is WWF calling for?

On the Strategic Agenda and the mandate of the next European Commission President
WWF is calling for the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda to make a priority of sustainable development and the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. On the basis of this and the European Parliament’s call for action, the next Commission President should in turn:
  • Appoint a Vice-President for Climate Action and Natural Resources, leading on the development and transformation of the 8th Environmental Action Programme into a European Sustainability Pact guiding the EU's sustainability agenda for the decade to come
  • Commit to personally overseeing the adoption of an overarching and high-level implementation strategy for the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Take immediate action to increase the EU's domestic GHG reduction target for 2030 up to 65%, considering the broad agreement for net-zero emissions by 2050 the latest. Step up enforcement action on the implementation of EU environmental law. Present a plan for large-scale nature restoration and connectivity across Europe
  • Put  forward an EU Footprint Action Plan tackling the impacts of the EU's consumption and resource dependence on people and nature abroad
On the long-term climate strategy

WWF is calling for a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target to be set for 2040. The EU has a responsibility to set the pace on climate action, given its historical emissions compared to those of other parts of the world. If the EU reaches net zero by 2040 in a socially fair and just manner, it will have played its part in keeping global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as it committed to do under the Paris climate agreement.

In May, the UN Secretary-General sent the EU a letter calling for a higher 2030 climate target of 55%.

If Member States do not agree on net zero by 2050 in June, they may have an opportunity to do so at an informal meeting in mid-July. The next official European Council is scheduled for 17-18 October.

The European Commission is also due to publish an analysis of Member States’ draft climate and energy plans for 2030 (NECPs), and recommendations on each one tomorrow, 18 June. The final versions of the NECPs are due in by the end of 2019.


Imke Luebbeke, Head, EU Climate and Energy Policy +32 2 743 88 18

Sarah Azau, Senior Communications Officer, +32 473 573 13
EU Member States on net zero 2050 target
EU Member States on net zero 2050 target - p2