European Commission Recommends Cutting Emissions by 90%

windmills on a field in Europe

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by | Feb 7, 2024

The European Commission has recommended drastic greenhouse gas emissions reductions to achieve climate neutrality across the European Union by 2050.

The Commission published a detailed impact assessment which led to its recommendation to cut 90% of GHG emissions by 2040 compared to 1990 levels. The Commission will make a legislative proposal as its next steps, after the European elections.

The recommendation aligns with the advice of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change and the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, according to the Commission.

To achieve a 90% reduction in emissions, the Commission also published a set of enabling policy conditions, including full implementation of the 2030 framework, which proposes new targets and measures to make the EU’s economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable. The 2040 target for emissions reduction will also strengthen Europe against future crises, making the region more resilient through decarbonization by strengthening its energy independence, according to the Commission.

Of note, more than 4% of the EU’s GDP in 2022 was from fossil fuel imports amid Russia’s war with Ukraine. The target also comes as climate impacts are expected to have continued rising costs — climate-related economic damage in the last five years in Europe is estimated to be more than $183 billion. And higher global warming could lower the EU’s GDP by about 7% by the end of the century, according to the Commission’s impact assessment.

Emissions Policies

To meet the new recommendations, the Commission stated the Green Deal needs to become an industrial decarbonization deal, as well as build up existing industrial strengths, including wind power, hydropower, and electrolyzers. Plus the Commission sees a need to increase domestic manufacturing capacity — across batteries, electric vehicles, heat pumps, solar PV, carbon capture and storage, biogas and biomethane, and the circular economy.

The carbon market could also play an important role for the delivery of emission reduction targets by European industry. And tapping both the public and private sector investment to ensure the economy remains sustainable and competitive. Plus, the Commission stated the policies need to reflect fairness.

“Fairness, solidarity and social policies need to remain at the core of the transition,” the Commission stated. “Climate action has to bring benefits to everybody in our societies, and climate policies need to take into account those who are most vulnerable, or face the greatest challenges to adapt.”

See the full recommendations here.

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