Lawmakers back 60% drop of greenhouse gasses by 2030

They insist fossil fuel subsidies to be phased out by 2025

Photo: EP Jytte Guteland.

The position on the first European climate law, setting ambitious 2030 and 2040 emissions reduction targets and climate neutrality by 2050, was backed by MEPs at their plenary session in Brussels. It was adopted with 392 votes for, 161 against and 142 abstentions.

The lawmakers propped up an amendment to reduce greenhouse gasses by 60% by 2030 compared to 1990, up from the previous target of 40% and higher than the Commission proposal of 55%. They asserted that national targets shall be increased in a cost-efficient and fair way.

A binding target for the EU and each Member State to reach climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest was also supported. According to the Parliament, this will give European citizens and businesses “the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for the transformation”.

To ensure the EU is on track to reach its 2050 target, MEPs pointed out that an interim target for 2040 should be proposed by the Commission following an impact assessment.

The lawmakers said that the Commission must propose by 31 May 2023, through the ordinary decision-making procedure, a trajectory at EU level on how to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, taking into account the total remaining EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions until 2050 to limit the increase in temperature in accordance with the Paris Agreement. After each stock taking at global level, the trajectory must be reviewed, they urged.

MEPs supported a greenhouse gas budget that sets out the total remaining quantity of greenhouse gas emissions as CO2 equivalent that could be emitted until 2050 at the latest, without putting at risk the Union's commitments.

Setting up an EU Climate Change Council (ECCC) as an independent scientific body to assess whether policy is consistent and to monitor progress is also on the to-do list backed by the MEPs. With the creation of climate advisory bodies at Member States' level, they, together with ECCC, will jointly assess whether the EU is on track to achieve the climate neutrality objective and identify opportunities to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the carbon sequestration potential.

In the same vein, lawmakers said the EU and Member States must phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 31 December 2025 at the latest, highlighting that efforts to combat energy poverty need to continue.

Asserting that the Climate Law is a landmark for the European Green Deal that turns Europe's political climate ambitions into binding legislation, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said during the debate at the EP that “moving towards a climate-neutral future is the right thing to do for our children and future generations”.

If we invest hundreds of billions of euros in rescuing our economy from this pandemic, we must not throw money at the old economy, he also added.

EP Timmermans said as well that the transition “has to be just or there will just be no transition”, and that households and regions that are at risk of being left behind, should be helped.

The Commission will continue developing the Just Transition Mechanism, and will soon put on the table a Renovation Wave to lower energy bills and fight energy poverty.

Commenting on the vote, the rapporteur on the file, Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden), said that the adoption of the report sends a clear message to the Commission and the Council, in light of the upcoming negotiations.

We expect all Member States to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and we need strong interim targets in 2030 and 2040 for the EU to achieve this.

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