MEPs prepare to show climate credentials

Posted on 05 October 2020

Some are pushing for a low target, but Europe’s citizens want real action.
Watch this morning’s press conference with Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, WWF, Greenpeace and CAN Europe.

What’s happening and why does it matter?
The European Parliament holds a crucial plenary vote on the EU 2030 climate target and climate law on 6 October. 

The EU Commission proposed increasing the EU’s 2030 climate target to a 55% net lower emissions goal. This is far too low: the climate emergency and the EU’s historical emissions mean minimum 65% emissions reductions are necessary. What’s more, making it a ‘net’ target by including carbon removals, rather than counting them separately as in the past, actually means the 55% level is even less ambitious than it appears, likely only around 50.5-52.8%. 

Environment Committee MEPs recently supported a 60% emissions reduction target for 2030 - this is better than the Commission, but still too low. 

This vote is the Parliament’s chance to increase the 60% position and take steps to turn the proposal into a law fit for tackling the climate emergency. The vote looks to be exceedingly close. The centre-right EPP is likely to support the Commission's proposal of net 55% with the ID and ECR groups, while all other political groups will propose higher targets. 

Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said:
“The heat is on for MEPs: this is their chance to show their true climate colours. Some conservative voices are pushing for a low target to keep the harmful status quo. But Europe’s citizens want faster, socially fair change, as we saw again with the recent climate strikes. The Covid recovery offers an opportunity to reset our economy and make it just, climate-neutral and sustainable: the Parliament must seize it.” 

What is WWF calling for?
  • An emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 65%, excluding carbon dioxide removal by sinks or any international offsetting.
  • Any EU policies that aren’t consistent with the EU’s climate objectives to be scrapped or changed by 2021.
  • An independent expert EU climate body to advise on EU climate policies and plans and their consistency with EU climate goals.
  • An EU roadmap that sets out the path to  climate neutrality by 2040. 
  • A ban on all fossil fuel subsidies by 2026.

What happens now?
EU leaders will try to reach agreement on their position on the target on 15-16 October, or possibly only in December. At that point, Environment Ministers will be willing to adopt a ‘general approach’ on the EU climate law, after which the three institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament) will begin trilogue negotiations to reach a final compromise.  

Who supports what, and what are the bones of contention?

European Parliament
The biggest issue at stake in the ENVI committee vote is the 2030 emissions target. The Swedish S&D Rapporteur Jytte GUTELAND proposed setting this at 65% - something the Greens still support, whereas GUE MEPs are pushing for 70%. Dragging their feet as usual are the EPP, who are reluctant to support even 55% and have sought to water down many of the other progressive additions to the law that the Rapporteur and the Greens and GUE have proposed. 

Key to watch will be whether all Renew and S&D members vote for the 60% agreed in the ENVI committee - the vote will be extremely tight.

Whatever is agreed in plenary, and following the Council agreeing its position, we then move into the ‘trilogue’ stage, where a compromise deal is hammered out between the parties (see below). 

EU Member States
Where the Council will end up on this dossier is far from clear. So far the Member States have only really focused on the 2030 target question, on which they remain divided (see table). And they’ve shown none of the interest in beefing up the limited Commission proposal in the way that we’ve seen in the Parliament. It remains to be seen whether the German Presidency will be able to corral them behind a ‘general approach’ by the time of the Environment Council in October. Much will depend on when the European Council reaches a view on the issue.


Imke Lübbeke
Head of Climate and Energy 

Alex Mason
Senior Policy Officer 
+ 32 494 762 763

Sarah Azau 
Media manager 
+32 473 573 137
Flooding of Beuvron, France, May 2015.
© Flickr / Daniel Jolivet
EU Member States' positions on the EU 2030 climate target (50 or 55%) - October 2020
© EU Member States' positions on the EU 2030 climate target (50 or 55%) - October 2020