Meaningful emission reductions | WWF

Meaningful emission reductions

Pollution from petrochemical plant in Teeside, UK
© Global Warming Images / WWF

...A gaping hole in climate targets

Action against a threat as existential as climate change requires long-term planning by responsible policymakers to reach our goal of a prosperous society in a climate-proof economy by 2050.

As a whole, the EU has a number of progressive, climate and energy policies. However at the centre of the EU’s climate and change policies there is a gaping hole: namely, the EU’s 2020 (20%) and 2030 (40%) greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  Neither of these targets are sufficient to avoid dangerous climate change, or to deal with the scale of the problem. The EU28  outperformed their 2020 climate targets to cut emissions by 20% below 1990, with six years to spare. This was great, but why is the EU now resting on its laurels? The 2030 climate and energy package, represented a chance to show climate change leadership ahead of the next binding global agreement on climate change mitigation. Yet the EU seems set for an inadequate target of 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030.

The benefits of a modern European low carbon economy extend far beyond achieving reductions in greenhouse gas pollution. A climate friendly society would enable Europe to become competitive in global markets for renewable energy and energy saving technologies, and would unlock pioneering innovation and financing potential. Moreover, increased investments in clean technologies will improve European energy supply security, the health of the citizens, plus create new jobs.

It is time to Get Real

Ample evidence has shown that current policies don’t have a negative impact on the EU’s industrial competitiveness. Unfortunately, the focus of policymakers is far too often on the need for short term economic interests, as opposed to long-term climate protection. Neither of these goals can afford to be traded off against each other, if Europe is to succeed in its global goal to promote peace, and prosperity. 

Now that we know that the costs of achieving higher emissions reductions are significantly lower than expected, it is time for more realistic and adequate carbon pollution reduction targets within Europe by 2020 and 2030, if we want to reach our goal of a climate-proof economy by 2050

The European Commission recognised this necessity and launched the so-called ‘2050 roadmaps’, followed by a 2030 policy framework indicating how the EU can reach its climate and energy targets, including policy challenges, investment needs and opportunities in different sectors. 

Further implementation is needed to turn this into reality, and will require an important role for reality-based EU policy that achieves common aims, whilst retaining national flexibility within an identifiable, positive programme. As such coordination at the highest level is essential.

The level of ambition for these policies should  have an actual impact on the problem we are trying to solve.