On 17 September 2020, the European Commission presented its proposal to increase the climate target by 2030, which had been announced for quite some time. Whilst until now, a reduction of CO2 emissions by 40 % by 2030 compared to the emission of 1990 has been determined at European level, this reduction has now been increased to 55 %.
The Green Deal is a key project of the new EU Commission. At the heart of this Deal is a separate Climate Law, which legally enshrines that the EU shall no longer produce net greenhouse emissions by 2050. However, it is as important for initiating a speedy transition and for fulfilling the Paris climate targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as early and as quickly as possible. Hence, the interim target, as to how large the reduction of emissions by 2030 measured by the initial value of 1990 should be, is of vital importance.
When the new Commission took office in December 2019, Ursula von der Leyen already asked Frans Timmermans in her Mission letter to “put forward a comprehensive plan to increase the EU’s target for 2030 towards 55% in a responsible way“. According to the Climate Law, which the Commission presented in March 2020, this ambition shall be stepped up in September 2020, which has now been undertaken in the published Communication.
Apart from that, the now published Communication also details, which additional measures will be taken to achieve the ambitious target within the next ten years. These include a proposal for reviewing and expanding the EU Emissions Trading System, the adjustment of national targets, a long-term vision on land use as well as improvements in the energy efficiency sector, the expansion of renewable energies as well as tightening CO2 emissions standards for road vehicles.
The Climate Law, which was presented in March 2020 includding the interim target by 2030, are currently debated in Parliament. The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has adopted their report on 10 September 2020, in which they call for emissions to be reduced by 60 % in 2030. Apart from that, it calls for sufficient financial support by the EU and Member States to ensure that climate neutrality can be reached by 2050. According to the Committee on Environment, all direct or indirect fossil fuel subsidies shall be phased out by 2025 at the latest.
With 46 votes for and 18 against, the report was adopted with a clear majority. Two of the 18 Austrian MEPs are also Members of the Committee on Environment and took part in the vote: Günther Sidl (SPÖ) voted in favour of the report and emphasised that an ambitious target was needed to “turn the tide on the climate crisis“. Alexander Bernhuber (ÖVP), who as one of 17 MEPs abstained, regards a saving of 60 % as “too much and not feasible”.
The final vote on the plenary position has been scheduled for October 2020. However, the now presented Communication on the 2030 climate ambition as well as the position of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety give the negotiations on the European Climate Law additional impetus. In any case, the odds that the EU – with an ambitious Climate Law – can indeed adopt a leading global role, are in its favour. The Austrian Chamber of Labour supports this goal and emphasises that a clear, ambitious and binding target path is needed for the entire period until 2050. However, this process of decarbonisation has to be fair and focus on the interests of workers; disadvantageous effects must be mitigated and the positive potential inherent in this transformation must be made use of in the interests of workers.