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55 per cent emissions cuts in EU by 2030 is economically feasible, study says

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It is technically and economically feasible for EU member states to achieve a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, a think tank has said in a new study.

German organisation Agora Energiewende has called on the EU to improve upon its proposed climate rules which will necessitate that the bloc reduces carbon emissions by just 40 per cent by 2030.

It said increased climate protection efforts are necessary if the world wants to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

For emissions from industry and the energy sector, which are regulated by the EU emissions trading scheme, the study proposes a greenhouse gas reduction of 59 to 63 per cent compared to 2005 – a tightening of 16 to 20 percentage points.

Emissions in the other sectors – particularly transport, buildings and agriculture – could be reduced by 45 to 49 percent compared to 2005, 15 to 19 percentage points more than previously envisioned.

A new target is to be adopted under the German EU Council Presidency by the end of the year and subsequently presented to the international community at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, which was postponed from this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

In the run up to the conference, the European Commission also intends to submit proposals for modifying the EU’s policy architecture for climate protection.

“The success of the COP in Glasgow depends on the European Union presenting a significantly higher climate target,” said Dr. Patrick Graichen, executive director, Agora Energiewende .

“This target will have to be backed up by ambitious policies and measures that enable its fulfilment. Our study shows that, in principle, the climate policy architecture of the EU is fit for purpose. However, the EU’s climate policy instruments will have to be significantly strengthened to achieve these emissions reductions in practice.”

Some of the recommendations on how to achieve the target include a tightening of emission standards for motor vehicles; a new market for national emission allowances in the transport, building and agriculture sectors, and the establishment of a separate Europe-wide emissions trading scheme for these sectors.

The Nordic member states in particular are “leading the way” on climate action by already adopting more rigorous targets than the EU, Graichen said.

The study recommends that proceeds generated from the national emission allowances market should be used to help poorer countries in the union achieve their climate goals.

“It is crucial for EU member states to begin rapidly transforming their economies in line with the goal of climate neutrality. The cumulative effect of early emissions reductions will help member states to achieve higher climate targets set for 2030 and later those for 2050.

By contrast, emission reductions undertaken at a later date would have to be all the more drastic to achieve the same effect and thus much more difficult to implement politically and economically,” Graichen said.

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