What is the ‘EU long-term climate strategy’ - and why does it matter?
The 2015 Paris Agreement asked signatories to come up with long-term climate strategies. The EU’s draft strategy was published in November 2018. This is now being discussed at EU and Member State level. The strategy should be finalised by 2020.
What does it say we need to do?
It says that the EU must be climate neutral (zero net GHG emissions) by 2050 to tackle climate change. This would bring huge benefits. To reach that, every sector of the economy must be transformed: this is challenging but possible.
What are the benefits of net zero emissions?
Higher EU GDP by 2%, increased employment, €200 billion per year saved in health benefits and €2-3 trillion in fossil fuel imports, says the draft strategy. And that is without even counting the benefits of avoiding climate change.
How do we get there by 2050?
Energy efficiency will have a crucial role, and burning fossil fuels must virtually stop, says the draft strategy. A ‘spectacular’ increase in renewable energy is needed, and a move to a fully circular economy with clean industry.
What does WWF think?
WWF thinks the draft is a good step forward, picking up on the urgency of climate action and the central role of energy efficiency, renewables, industrial transformation and a fair transition. However, it should be more ambitious: the EU should aim to reach zero net emissions by 2040, not 2050, and the EU’s 2030 climate target will need to be increased - which isn’t mentioned in the draft.
Anything else missing?
The need to decommission the gas grid, and stop investing in more gas infrastructure. Moreover, the draft says more land should be used for energy crops, when this actually would be counterproductive in climate terms.
What happens next?
It is now up to EU heads of state and government to respond to the Commission’s draft proposal. WWF calls on them to respond to the huge public support for climate action across Europe by agreeing as soon as possible on the aim of a climate neutral EU by 2050 or ideally, 2040, commit to revising the EU’s 2030 targets accordingly, and then challenge the rest of the world to do likewise.
Read WWF's briefing on the EU long-term climate strategy proposal