On 22 January 2014 the European Commission proposed a new reduction target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 40% compared to 1990 as the centre piece of the EU’s energy and climate policy for 2030. In a significant move away from the earlier 2020 energy and climate framework, the Commission proposed that this target be met through domestic measures alone.
First and foremost, a 40% target is insufficient to ensure Europe can meet an 80-95% reduction of emissions in 2050. Moreover, the effectiveness of the 40% GHG target is threatened by the gigantic surplus of more than 2.5 billion emissions allowances under the EU ETS. If carried over to the next trading period starting in 2020, this surplus would not only undermine the effectiveness but also the domestic nature of the GHG target because it would allow as much as 1.6 billion tonnes, the equivalent of the number of international offsets that entered the EU ETS during the period 2008-2020, into the 2030 climate system through the backdoor.
The Commission proposes that a more ambitious target beyond 40% could be achieved by allowing access to international offset credits. Numerous experts have analysed the impacts of international offsets and have come to the conclusion that their use has substantially undermined EU climate goals. Offset credits that only represent emissions reductions on paper but not in reality mean that at some point additional money will have to be spent to reduce emissions.
Finally, the European Commission proposed to add the land-use, land-use change and forestry sectors (LULUCF) in the 2030 GHG target. However, LULUCF represents a net sink in the EU’s 28 Member States. Carbon sink activities in these sectors would therefore undermine the effectiveness of the GHG target.
To improve the European Commission’s proposals, Carbon Market Watch calls on the European Council to:
- Agree to increase the 2020 GHG target to 35% to pave the way for a target of at least 55% in 2030 together with binding targets for both renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- Endorse the domestic nature of the 2030 GHG target and call on the European Commission to propose a solution to permanently remove the surplus emissions allowances in the EU ETS;
- Agree to increase the GHG target in case the surplus allowances do not get removed;
- Call on the European Commission to introduce EU-wide quality restrictions for all international offsets used in the EU-ETS up to 2020 and beyond, e.g. for climate finance as well as compliance beyond the EU’s overall GHG target;
- Agree that the 40% GHG target needs to be increased in case of the inclusion of the LULUCF sectors under the EU’s GHG target.
Read full recommendations here