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Weak EU climate deal snubs the science

11 December 2020
by WWF -- last modified 11 December 2020

Early today EU leaders reached a disappointing deal on the bloc’s 2030 climate target.


They agreed to increase it from 40% to 55% 'net' emissions reductions, meaning that the actual emissions reduction is only 50.5 - 52.8%, depending on the size of the EU's carbon sink. This flies in the face of the science, which shows that a minimum of 65% genuine emissions cuts is necessary by 2030 to avoid the biggest risks of temperature rise.

Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:

"You wouldn't water down an effective vaccine. Yet just when the EU needs a shot of strong climate action, leaders have diluted the science with politics. EU leaders should be shaping a socially just transition to a sustainable, zero-carbon future, not fudging the figures by adding concepts like "net" to reduce an already low 55% target even further.

"Environment ministers meeting next week have a chance to rescue some of the EU's reputation on climate. They must ensure the EU climate law includes a five-yearly review of the climate target, brings other policies in line with the targets, and sets up an independent expert advisory body to scrutinise EU climate plans", added Asin.

Miroslaw Proppé, CEO of WWF-Poland commented:

"The adoption of the 55% EU target, while remaining insufficient, is a loud wake-up call for Poland. Analysis shows that without a serious discussion on a coal phase-out date and a change of policies in such areas as transport, buildings and agriculture, we will not be able to contribute to the agreed target. The Recovery Fund and new financial framework provide an opportunity to shift our existing policies and investments in a more sustainable direction. We cannot miss this opportunity."

The EU must finalise its new target and submit its updated climate plan ('Nationally Determined Contribution' or NDC) to the UN before the end of this year, according to the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Globally, there is increasing momentum on climate action, with many countries having submitted their updated NDCs already. With the COP26 climate summit postponed until 2021, the UN and the UK will co-host a global climate event on 12 December 2020, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, at which countries will present their climate plans.

The European Policy Office helps shape EU policies that impact on the European and global environment.