Commission proposal sticks with outdated climate targets

credit: Mark Hamblin

Today, only seven months after the Paris Agreement, the European Commission published its proposal for the Effort Sharing Regulation and the rules for accounting the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF) up to 2030. This proposal is massively important. However instead of living up to the ambition of Paris, the Commission has opted to follow the path of least resistance set by EU member states.

Roland Joebstl, Climate and Energy Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

The Commission has stuck with outdated targets for 2030 and has not included a mechanism to increase ambition in its proposal. Member States are to blame for the outdated targets as they have refused in their negotiations to countenance higher levels of ambition, but the failure to include a ratchet mechanism is the Commission’s own doing. 

Faustine Bas-Defossez, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), added: 

“The Commission could have made use of its flagship climate policy to help set our broken farming system on the right path towards sustainability. Instead it has decided to allow intensive and environmentally-harmful farming practices to continue expanding. Worse still, this new proposal will allow Member States to artificially offset farm emissions by claiming carbon credits from afforestation. This trick is a slap in the face to the EU’s climate objectives and is bad news for the environment as a whole.”

Kai Niebert, President of the EEB member organisation DNR, the umbrella organisation of German environment NGOs, said:

If the EU sticks to the current weak target, annual emissions reduction efforts will abruptly have to triple after 2030 to be in line with the Paris Agreement. This is economic nonsense and politically unrealistic. We must stop delaying action now.“ says DNR president calling on the German Government to ensure that the proposal is brought in line with the results of the Paris Agreement during the negotiations.”

Francisco Ferreira, President of Portuguese NGO ZERO, commented:

The target of 17% emissions reductions by 2030 for Portugal is too low. In 2014, Portugal’s emissions were already 22.7% lower compared with 2005 levels.”

Fintan Kelly, Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce, said:

“By allowing MS to use loopholes and account for emissions sinks in the land use, land-use change and forestry the Commission is allowing countries like Ireland to continue to intensify unsustainable models of agriculture and forestry. The Commission is failing the environment, failing to protect the well-being of many farmers and damaging the health of the public and the world’s poorest people. Every sector of society must commit to reducing emissions and agriculture must be no different.”

The Commission proposal is based on the Council Conclusions from October 2014 in which EU member states negotiated 2030 emissions reduction targets with only a 2 degrees C scenario in mind. This is outdated. The Paris Agreement demands efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, a demand that was pushed by the Commission and EU Member States.

Furthermore, the proposal creates uncertainty about how the “ratchet mechanism” laid out in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement will be implemented in the EU climate legislation.

We call on all EU Member States as they start their national ratification process to implement the Paris agreement to set down how they will deliver real action in all sectors and go beyond what the Commission has published today. Real climate ambition means fixing Europe’s building stock, switching to clean transportation, transforming Europe’s agriculture and putting energy efficiency first. A clear signal of change will trigger investments and jobs in Europe.  

Notes for editors: 

The current proposal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the non-ETS sector by 30% as part of the overall target to reduce EU GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is not in line with the objective to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C. 

The ambition is further weakened by allowing MS to use loopholes and account for emissions sinks in the land use, land use change and forestry sectors, and oversupply in the ETS sector instead of delivering those savings in the building, transport, agriculture and waste sector.

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