EU summit: a chance for a people-centred move to climate neutrality

Posted on 21 May 2021

EU leaders must task the Commission with proposing a Fit for 55% package which is consistent with the EU Green Deal, aligned with science, and puts people at the centre.
What’s happening?
On 24-25 May, EU leaders will meet to talk climate action. They will discuss what the EU needs to do to achieve the new target enshrined in its recently agreed climate law -  a net cut in emissions of at least 55% in 2030. 

The summit will set the direction for the European Commission, which is preparing 2030 climate and energy proposals - the ‘Fit for 55%’ package - to show how the climate law and targets will be implemented. 

Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
“EU leaders have an important opportunity to set the right direction for the upcoming climate and energy proposals.They can do this by tasking the Commission with proposing a Fit for 55% package which is consistent with the EU Green Deal, aligned with science, and puts people at the centre.”

What is WWF calling for?
‘Fit for 55%’ isn’t ‘Fit for 1.5°’ - the temperature rise limit agreed in the Paris climate accord. The EU climate and energy proposals must bring the EU’s emissions reductions up to 65% at least by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and increase natural carbon sinks separately. 

The package must be consistent with the EU Green Deal goals - climate neutrality and nature restoration. This environmental ‘integrity’ will determine how effective the EU will be when realistic options for limiting temperature increase to 1.5.C are shrinking.

The package must have people at its heart. Moving to a sustainable, climate-neutral economy impacts everything and everyone. The proposals should make clean and sustainable solutions accessible and affordable for everyone in Europe. 

Member States have to drive the change and be accountable for increased climate action in the sectors not covered by the Emissions Trading System (ETS). This means national binding targets must stay in place under the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) - and be increased substantially. Buildings and road transport should be addressed through sectoral policies in order to increase their climate contributions, and not moved under the ETS. 

Stopping climate change means rapid cuts in emissions but also a big increase in net removals by the land use sector. The EU’s Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation is not consistent with this aim and must be reformed to substantially increase annual net removals in the LULUCF sector by 2030.

Crucially, the Commission needs to keep carbon removals from forests and other natural ‘sinks’ separate from emissions reductions in other sectors - carbon removals by sinks are not necessarily stable and cannot be treated as directly equivalent to emissions.

The EU’s flagship ETS is flooded by the emissions allowances accumulated over the past decade. Despite current record prices of around €50 per tonne of carbon, the price could fall in the next few years if the upcoming reform does not lead to a cancellation of the surplus allowances in the system, and a substantial cut in emissions allowances available from 2023. 

All revenue generated through EU ETS needs to be redistributed to EU citizens in the form of climate action and accelerate a people-centred and socially fair transition to climate neutrality and nature protection. Revenues must not be used to repay debt from under the Next Generation EU instrument.

Finally, EU rules on biomass need radical change. Encouraging the burning of trees and crops for energy through the Renewable Energy Directive is extremely harmful for the climate and nature and so runs directly counter to the aims of the Green Deal. 

Sarah Azau
Communications Manager, WWF European Policy Office 
Tel: +32 473 573 137
Bucharest, Romania, March 25, 2017: Hundreds gather at Izvor Parc, Bucharest, Romania, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of #EarthHour and to switch off all non-essential lights as a symbol of commitment to help change the climate change. At 8:30 PM, local time, all over Romania people switch off lights for an hour to show support. © Daniel Damaschin
© WWF-Romania