European Council Endorses Binding 40% GHG Emissions Reduction Target by 2030

On October 24, the European Council New_European_Council_-_Consilium_Logoreleased its Conclusions on 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. This announcement asserted a 40% domestic GHG Emissions Reduction Target by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Approximately 10% of all GHG emissions worldwide currently come from the EU.

Under this newly announced goal, the EU must also increase renewable energy by at least 27% and reduce energy demand by 27% by 2030. All EU member states, in “solidarity and while considering fairness“, will participate in these efforts. The 40% reduction target is EU-wide; legally binding member specific targets have not been extended beyond 2020. Member states are currently free to set their own targets post 2020.

The EU intends to achieve these goals by reforming the Emissions Trading System (ETS). The ETS will lower the cap on maximum emissions from 1.7% annual reduction to 2.2% starting in 2021.

Smoke billows from the chimneys of Belchatow Power StationDuring negotiations, Poland fought to preserve its coal industry while other members states argued for their various economic interests including methane producing livestock, nuclear facilities, and cross-border power lines in Spain and Portugal. Germany and the U.K. pushed for The 40% target was finally agreed upon after hours of negotiations.

The EC encourages all countries to develop ambitious emission reduction targets and policies in advance of COP 21.

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Christiana Figueres weighed in on the EC’s announcement stating that it provides momentum towards the Paris agreement and that the EU would be able to submit its INDC contribution by March 2015. Further, she noted that because 28 European countries were able to compromise on the 40% reduction target, all countries should be able to come to an effective agreement in Paris.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard noted that achieving 4th0% emissions reduction would be difficult. She stated that the EC’s ambitious proposal can only be achieved by major transformation across the EU. However, the new proposal is an important step forward for the entire world in terms of combating climate change.