RELEASE: EU Commission's proposed 2040 target not quite 1.5°C compatible, pre-2030 action is key

Press release

The European Commission proposed a 2040 emission reductions target, which would only be 1.5˚C aligned if accompanied with significantly higher international climate finance and which, disappointingly, is at the least ambitious end of the 90-95% range recommended to it, the Climate Action Tracker said today.

The new 2040 proposal assumes no update to the 2030 target, although the COP three years in a row has urged countries to increase 2030 ambition. It doesn't include a phase-out of fossil fuels, and relies heavily on fossil carbon capture and storage (CCS) including in the power sector. Fossil CCS just continues dependency on fossil fuel and is absolutely not needed in the power sector.

The EU continues to fail to contribute its fair share to global climate action, to do so deeper reduction for 2040 and more climate finance would be needed.

The CAT estimates that the proposed 90% reduction by 2040 below 1990 levels is actually only an 84% reduction below 1990 for all sectors - excluding land use change and forestry, as that sector is assumed to remain a net sink. Climate change impacts, particularly in 2023, have shown that relying on forest removals is a risky strategy.

"While a 2040 target is welcome, governments must still remain laser-focussed on improving their climate action within this decade, by strengthening their 2030 targets," said the CAT's EU lead Sarah Heck, of Climate Analytics.

"Without governments taking strong pre-2030 climate action, it's highly unlikely the world will be able to meet anything like net zero by 2050, let alone a strong 2040 target," she said.

Accordingly, the CAT has today published its up-to-date analysis of the EU's revised 2030 target, submitted to the UNFCCC in October 2023. This shows that the EU is not yet set to reach its 2030 target which remains unchanged from its previous NDC despite the call by the COP to make it more ambitious.

The CAT continues to rate the EU's 2030 target as "Insufficient" but downgraded its policies and actions rating from “Almost sufficient” to “Insufficient”.

"The EU should increase its present 2030 target to at least 65% below 1990 levels, including its land use sink, to meet the minimum requirements of getting its domestic emissions onto a 1.5˚C pathway, and it should also increase its 2040 target to at least the recommended 95% reduction," said Mia Moisio of CAT partner NewClimate Institute.

The CAT will undertake a full assessment and rating of the EU's 2035 target once it has been submitted to the UNFCCC later in 2024 or 2025. Agreeing on a 2040 target is part of the EU’s process of defining a 2035 target and ensuring it is on track to achieve its climate neutrality target.

Please find the EU 2030 assessment here. Some analysis of the 2040 target is in the summary, as well as on the targets page. There's also the full analysis of EU climate policies, by sector.

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