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City leaders speak in favour of emission reduction targets up to 65% by 2030 with EU support

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Mayors of 58 major European cities say that “it’s time for a revision of the EU 2030 energy and climate targets to at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, legally binding at member-state level.” They also call for EU funding to be channelled to a green and just recovery in cities, especially to “unlock the full potential” of leading cities that have made even higher reduction targets of 65%. The call follows the vote by the European Parliament in favour of higher targets and ahead of the European Council meeting on 15 October in Brussels.

In an open letter to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in her role as President of the Council of the EU, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the mayors say their proposal would be, “a natural milestone on the road to a climate neutral continent by 2050”.

Cities are a critical part of the European Green Deal, but cannot act alone. “…that’s why we ask you to use EU funding and recovery policies to support leading cities aiming to do their part of this goal with an even higher reduction target of 65%. We will not be able to unlock the potential of Europe’s cities without an ambitious EU policy framework in place,” reads the letter.

The mayors, representing millions of Europeans, also call for:

  • Significant investments in public transport, green infrastructure and building renovations to enable the transition in cities. The EU’s recovery plan must be designed to deliver the highest political ambitions for emissions reductions;
  • EU funding and financing to be channelled to where it is the most needed – Europe’s cities – to boost the transformational power of urban areas for a green and just recovery, and;
  • recovery funding for fossil-fuel intensive sectors to be conditional to clear decarbonization commitments.

By adopting these measures, the letter concludes: “You will be sending a clear signal that Europe means business on green recovery and supports strong climate action ahead of COP26.”

Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor of Stockholm and president of Eurocities, said: “Cities are at the forefront of climate ambition in Europe and will be the engines of the European Green Deal. The EU must support them with a fit-for-purpose COVID19 recovery plan that directs massive investments to the green and just transition in cities.”

The letter was co-ordinated through the Eurocities network.

  1. The mayors’ open letter can be viewed here.
  2. The cities that have signed are: Amsterdam, Athens, Banja Luka, Barcelona, Bergen, Bordeaux, Burgas, Braga, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Budapest, Chemnitz, Cologne, Copenhagen, Coventry, Dortmund, Dublin, Eindhoven, Florence, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Ghent, Glasgow, Grenoble-Alpes Metropole, Hannover, Heidelberg, Helsinki, Kiel, Lahti, Linkoping, Lisbon, Ljubljana, London, Lyon, Lyon Metropole, Madrid, Malmo, Mannheim, Milan, Munich, Munster, Nantes, Oslo, Oulu, Paris, Porto, Riga, Rome, Seville, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Tampere, Turin, Turku, Vilnius, Wroclaw
  3. Eurocities wants to make cities places where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life, is able to move around safely, access quality and inclusive public services and benefit from a healthy environment. We do this by networking almost 200 larger European cities, which together represent some 130 million people across 39 countries, and gathering evidence of how policy making impacts on people to inspire other cities and EU decision makers.

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Climate change

European Parliament cements position on climate change before haggling by member states

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European Union lawmakers have backed a plan to cut greenhouse gases by 60% from 1990 levels by 2030, hoping member states will not try to water the target down during upcoming negotiations, writes .

Results of the vote released today (8 October) confirm their preliminary votes earlier this week on a landmark law to make the EU’s climate targets legally binding.

The law, which contains the new EU emissions-cutting goal for 2030, passed by a large majority of 231 votes.

Parliament must now agree the final law with the EU’s 27 member countries, only a few of whom have said they would support a 60% emissions-cutting target. Lawmakers want to avoid countries whittling it away to below the level of emissions cuts proposed by the EU executive of at least 55%.

The EU’s current 2030 target is a 40% emissions cut.

Parliament also supported a proposal to launch an independent scientific council to advise on climate policy - a system already in place in Britain and Sweden - and a carbon budget, setting out the emissions the EU could produce without scuppering its climate commitments.

With climate-related impacts such as more intense heatwaves and wildfires already felt across Europe, and thousands of young people taking to the streets last month to demand tougher action, the EU is under pressure to ramp up its climate policies.

Groups representing investors with 62 trillion euros in assets under management, plus hundreds of businesses and NGOs today wrote to EU leaders urging them to agree an emissions-cutting target of at least 55% for 2030.

Scientists say this target, which has been proposed by the European Commission, is the minimum effort needed to give the EU a realistic shot at becoming climate neutral by 2050. The Commission wants the new 2030 goal finalized by the end of the year.

However, the climate law will require compromise from member countries. Wealthier states with large renewable energy resources are pushing for deeper emissions cuts, but coal-heavy countries including Poland and Czech Republic fear the economic fallout of tougher targets.

Given its political sensitivity, heads of government will likely decide their position on the 2030 target by unanimity, meaning one country could block it.

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Climate change

EU progress towards its #ClimateChange goals

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The EU has set out ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Fighting climate change is a priority for the EU. It has committed to a series of measurable objectives and taken several measures to reduce greenhouse gases. What progress has already been achieved?

2020 climate goals to be reached

Graphic showing the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU between 1990 and 2020 and projections up to 2035Graphic showing the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU between 1990 and 2020 and projections up to 2035 

The EU targets for 2020 have been set out in the climate and energy package adopted in 2008. One of its objectives is a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.

By 2018, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU had decreased 23.2% compared with 1990 levels. This means the EU is well on track to reach its target for 2020. However, according to member states’ latest projections based on existing measures, the emission reduction would only be about 30% by 2030. The EU emission target for 2030, set in 2008, is a 40% reduction compared to 1990 levels and the Parliament is pushing to set an even more ambitious target of 55%.

In November 2019, the Parliament declared a climate emergency asking the Commission to adapt all its proposals in line with a 1.5 °C target for limiting global warming and ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.

In response, the new Commission unveiled the European Green Deal, a road map for Europe to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Progress in energy and industry sectors

To meet the 2020 target mentioned above, the EU is taking action in several areas. One of them is the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that covers greenhouse gas emissions from large-scale facilities in the power and industry sectors, as well as the aviation sector, which accounts for about 40% of the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Between 2005 and 2018, emissions from power plants and factories covered by the EU emissions trading system fell by 29%. This is markedly more than the 23% reduction set as the 2020 target.

Status for national targets

To reduce emissions from other sectors (housing, agriculture, waste, transport, but not aviation), EU countries set out the national emission reduction targets under the Effort Sharing DecisionThe emissions from the sectors covered by national targets were 11% lower in 2018 than in 2005, exceeding the 2020 target of a 10% reduction.

Infographic showing EU countries's greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 and 2018 and comparing progress towards the 2020 reduction targetThe targets for EU countries
More infographics on climate change

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Climate change

#GlobalWarming - #EESC calls for new tax measures to reduce and remove CO2 from the atmosphere

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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has underlined the fact that taxes on carbon dioxide emissions will not be enough to reduce CO2 sufficiently and says that there is a need to adopt a symmetrical approach to taxation that promotes the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

New taxes and additional measures on CO2 emissions will help, but will not be sufficient: global warming is likely to continue unless already-emitted CO2 can be taken out of the atmosphere. In the opinion drafted by Krister Andersson and adopted at the July plenary session, the Committee highlights the fact that a new system is needed, whereby CO2 emissions are not only taxed and therefore discouraged, but emissions that are already in the atmosphere can be removed, stored and used for other purposes.

Commenting during the plenary, Andersson said: "It is important to use taxation to reach Europe's climate neutrality goals, but there is a need for additional tools. It would be efficient if, as well as being able to reduce CO2 emissions, we could also remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This is why we are calling for a symmetrical taxation approach based on this strategy: tax revenues from CO2 taxes could be used to compensate activities that remove CO2 from the atmosphere."

The EESC also recommends developing, through dedicated investments, new technologies at EU and national level, allowing for carbon capture and storage (CCS) as well as carbon capture and utilization (CCU). These measures would be a further step towards reducing the impact of CO2 emissions, thereby adhering to the sustainable development goals of the UN and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Committee also points to land management practices which should be encouraged and supported, in the EU and in the member states, such as focusing on forests. Expanding, restoring and correctly managing forests can leverage the power of photosynthesis to tackle CO2 and should be compensated by applying a negative tax rate. Forests remove carbon dioxide naturally and trees are especially good at storing carbon removed from the atmosphere. In any case, whether it is new technologies or other practices, measures should be symmetrical, efficient and implemented in a way that is socially acceptable for everybody.

According to the EESC, global warming must be addressed worldwide, comprehensively and symmetrically, taking into account current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. It would be useful to establish rules within the EU and, on this basis, embark on international discussions with other trading blocs. In future, in order to achieve an effective, symmetrical policy framework to tackle the increasing amount of CO2, new taxation measures could be put forward to supplement the current emissions trading system and national carbon taxes.

The approach followed by the European Commission in the European Green Deal with the European emissions trading system (ETS) seems to be going in the right direction and making good progress in establishing more effective carbon pricing throughout the economy. The ETS is based on the "cap and trade" principle, according to which a cap is set on the overall amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted.

The cap is reduced over time, forcing total emissions to decrease. Within the limits of the cap, companies subject to the system receive or buy emission allowances, which are tradable as needed. Such a tool should be coordinated with other, additional instruments, including a new approach to taxation in a coherent policy framework, as well as with other, similar tools implemented in other regions throughout the world.

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