EU agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030

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The 28 European Union member states have agreed a new EU wide binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40% (on 1990 levels) by 2030. This was called for by the UK. The agreement is being seen as maintaining the EU’s path towards reducing GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this is what developed countries will need to reduce by 2050, to keep global warming below 2OC.

A new, binding at the EU level, renewable energy target of 27% across the EU has also been agreed, together with a 27% non-binding energy efficiency improvement target compared with current projections for future energy use. The plan also includes further support for carbon capture and storage through an ‘Innovation’ fund for demonstration projects.

The agreement is being hailed as ambitious,  meeting the UK’s key priorities whilst providing a flexible approach. This allows the individual member states to design their low carbon energy technology mix at least cost. There are, however, some critical voices, notably from Prof. Jim Skea, vice-chair of the economics working group of the IPCC.  He has suggested the target is too weak and that the easy climate protection measures had been taken, leaving future leaders to ensure new clean technologies become part of our everyday lives.

Prof. Jim Skea stated: “I don’t think many people have grasped just how huge this task is. It is absolutely extraordinary and unprecedented. My guess is that 40% for 2030 is too little too late if we are really serious about our long-term targets.”

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