Ambitious emissions cuts now look like bare minimum

Assume it is New Year’s Eve 2020 and we have achieved, precisely, the EU’s target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels. It took 30 years, the collapse of heavy industry in post-communist East and Central Europe and a global financial crisis in addition to, in the last decade, the Renewable Energy Directive and all the rest, but we got the job done.

Now after popping the champagne, consider that we need to cut annual EU greenhouse gas emissions by a full quarter through the coming decade to achieve the 40% target for 2030, set in 2014 and already starting to look dated when the Paris Agreement was stuck just over a year later.

Then imagine further that the EU has managed to adopt the 55% target – still with the same 1990 baseline – called for by the European Parliament again this week, and at the upper end of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's pre-election ambition curve. We now need to cut emissions by almost 44% in just 10 years.

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