Poland, Italy push to halve ambition of EU 2030 targets

A year on from the Paris climate accord, the EU is putting its attention into mechanisms to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gases. The biggest of these climate laws, the so-called Effort-Sharing Regulation, is now under attack from a group of governments led by Italy and Poland. The push to halve the EU’s 2030 climate efforts comes as a new report says transport, buildings and agriculture emissions would need to be close to zero in 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C.

The Effort-Sharing Regulation caps transport, buildings and agriculture emissions. EU governments have agreed in principle to cut these emissions by 30% in 2030, down from -10% in 2020. The EU’s -30% target is divided between countries so Germany will need to cut its emissions by 38% while Spain needs to achieve -26%. The Italian and Polish proposals introduce a range of loopholes that would grant EU governments millions of free emission permits so governments can meet the targets on paper, rather than in the real world. Calculations by Transport & Environment show that the Italo-Polish proposals would see the ambition level drop from -30% to below -20%.

T&E transport and energy analyst Carlos Calvo Ambel said: ‘The proposals by some governments would effectively halve the ambition level of the 2030 targets. These governments are blaming the way effort will be shared, but that can be addressed without lowering the ambition.’

He continued: ‘Reducing emissions in transport and houses means importing less oil and gas and investing in the 21st century technology. Protecting the 2030 climate targets is not just good for the planet, but also good for people’s pockets, the economy and Europe’s security. It would be foolish to throw all this away to offer some governments a slightly better deal.’

Yet even the 30% target falls well below what a new study says will be necessary. In a report for T&E, Germany’s Öko-Institut says that if the Paris goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100 is to be achieved, the EU must cut effort-sharing emissions, including transport’s, by 94% by 2050.

Carlos Calvo Ambel said: ‘We commissioned the Öko-Institut study in order to know what road transport needs to do by 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C. The results are clear: we need to do more and we need to do it faster.

‘With the Trump presidency about to start, it’s vital that Europe shows it is taking the Paris accord seriously. Severely undermining the starting point or handing out fake forestry credits won’t make the 2030 targets more fair, it’ll just destroy them.’

The Effort-Sharing Regulation is currently going through the EU legislative process. Governments started discussing the 2030 targets in 2016 and Parliament is about to start discussions in January when lead-MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy publishes his report on the file.