EU climate law: deal reflects politics not science

Posted on 21 April 2021

A 55% net target was agreed - far below the science and the Parliament's position.
Just two months before the EU’s 2030 ‘Fit for 55%’ climate and energy package is due, and with leaders gathering for US President Biden’s climate summit later this week, the EU will turn up having just agreed a dismal climate law which will do little to fight the planetary crisis. 

The final agreement contains a 2030 climate target of at least 55% net emissions as per the December 2020 European Council guidance - far below the 65% target the science says is needed, and the European Parliament’s position of 60%. 

The Parliament managed to set a fixed amount of removals to be counted towards the target. This would make overall emissions reduction 52.8% by 2030.  Positively, the EU Climate Law also establishes a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change whose members are appointed by EU countries through the European Environment Agency’s Management Board. They will scrutinise EU policy measures and check these are consistent with climate objectives. 

Despite these points, the European Parliament failed to secure many of its key demands. These include phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, guaranteeing access to justice in EU Member States in line with the Aarhus Convention, and requiring all Member States to reach climate neutrality by 2050. 

Imke Lübbeke, head of climate at WWF European Policy Office said:
“The EU Parliament’s valiant attempts to rescue an unambitious 2030 target  from the Commission and gain compromises from the EU Council came to naught. The EU can try to pat itself on the back at President Biden’s summit, but the reality is it is failing to respond adequately to what science shows we have to do in the coming decade to stop runaway climate change.” 

Romain Laugier, policy officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
“The establishment of an EU-level expert advisory body brings the European Union one step closer to more science-based climate policy. The European Environment Agency must now ensure that the body remains politically independent, and that its members are appointed only on the basis of their merits”. 

The European Commission must now make full use of the “at least” formulation mentioned in the EU Climate Law. It must also ensure all pieces  of legislation from the ‘Fit for 55%’ package add up to close the gap between the EU’s climate target and what science actually requires, meaning roughly a 65% climate target.
Forest fires are becoming more frequent as rising temperatures and drier weather in many areas of the world provides ideal conditions for combustion.
© Global Warming Images / WWF