European Council raises carbon reduction target

12 December, 2020

The European Council has endorsed a binding EU target of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. According to an article on the EU’s official website, Europa, reporting on the results of the most recent European Council meetings held from 10-11 December, the decision was made in order to meet the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. The previous target was for a 40% reduction. The EU’s climate and energy policy framework will be updated to bring it in line with the new target.

At the meetings, EU leaders agreed to raise their climate ambition in a manner that will spur sustainable economic growth, create jobs, deliver health and environmental benefits for EU citizens, contribute to the long-term global competitiveness of the EU economy by promoting green innovation.

EU leaders highlighted the importance of mobilising public finance and private capital, and recalled the overall target of at least 30% of the total amount of expenditure from the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) budget (for 2021-2027) and an extraordinary recovery effort budget (known as the Next Generation EU) should be directed to climate action.

To promote the development of common, global standards for green finance, the European Council requested the European Commission to put forward a legislative proposal for an EU green bond standard by June 2021 at the latest and to assess how all economic sectors can best contribute to the 2030 target and to make the necessary proposals, accompanied by an in-depth examination of environmental, economic and social impacts at member state level.

The EU’s nationally determined contribution, provided for in the Paris Agreement, will be updated according to the new binding target and be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat by the end of the year.

Ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which will take place in the United Kingdom in 2021, the European Council reiterated that international engagement is crucial to success in addressing climate change and called on all other parties, in particular major economies, to come forward with their own ambitious targets and policies. It underlined the importance of strong coordinated action through active European climate diplomacy.

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