Scientific advisers urge EU to cut emissions 90-95% by 2040

The European Union will have to aim for a near-total reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 if it wants to meet its 2050 climate neutrality goal, according to a report by the bloc’s climate advisory board, published on Thursday (15 June).

The recommendation by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change is the result of comprehensive analysis of the latest available scientific data.

It recommends keeping the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions budget within a limit of 11-14 Gt CO2e for 2030-2050.

To achieve this, the EU will need to reduce its emissions by 90-95% relative to 1990 levels by 2040, it adds.

“The Advisory Board’s recommendations underscore the need for bold and transformative actions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 in a way that is both fair and feasible,” said Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who chairs the EU’s climate advisory board.

“By making the right policy choices and embracing sustainable innovations, we can pave the way for a resilient future,” he said.

The board examined over 1,000 emission pathways to identify the scenarios that best align to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Members studied the feasibility of the scenarios and their fairness regarding the Union’s contribution to global emissions reduction efforts.

“To ensure that the EU’s climate action is both feasible and fair, the EU’s climate mitigation efforts should look both inside and outside the EU,” said Professor Jette Bredahl Jacobsen, vice-chair of the advisory board.

As a first step, the EU should focus on realising the current 55% reduction target by 2030.

The board was established under the European Climate Law, which called on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal for a 2040 climate target.

public consultation launched by the Commission earlier this year highlighted the necessity of setting a 2040 target for achieving the bloc’s 2050 climate objectives. “While the overall impact on GDP is likely to be limited, the transition to climate neutrality will be of a transformative nature for our economies,” the Commission acknowledged.

The report calls for urgent action but says meeting the 2040 target will require meticulous European, national and local planning.

“The recommended 2040 target requires us to act quickly, ensuring smooth transitions  to address environmental risks and tackle the challenges of scaling up technology,” said Professor Laura Diaz Anadon, the EU climate advisory board vice-chair.

“Establishing a policy framework that incentivises emissions reductions while also incentivising rapid scale-up of carbon removal is a key challenge for policymakers in the months to come,” added Professor Edenhofer.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon/Alice Taylor]








cover photo:The EU Climate Advisory Board set an ambitious climate target for 2040. [Olivier Hoslet]