Increase of the EU climate target: Progress, but no breakthrough

Erhöhung des EU-Klimaziels: Ein Fortschritt, noch kein Durchbruch

Following an all-night marathon meeting, the heads of state and government of the European Union agreed early on Friday morning to cut the greenhouse gas emissions in EU countries by at least 55 percent by 2030, against to 1990. This is a step forward, but not a breakthrough, on the way to reducing global warming to significantly less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century in order to avoid climate collapse. This is what more than 190 countries had committed to at the UN climate summit in Paris five years ago.

Until the end, there was significant disagreement as to whether EU countries should follow the proposal of the EU Commission to increase the target for greenhouse gas reduction from 40 percent to at least 55 percent by 2030. While Denmark, Sweden and Finland were aiming for an even higher goal, Eastern European countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, are having a hard time letting go of coal. Only after pulling a tough all-nighter were the 27 heads of state and government able to agree to the 55 percent goal at the EU summit in Brussels. To support EU countries on this path, funds from the Modernization Fund, with contributions from the European emissions trade, and the Just Transition Fund will be provided for the transition in coal regions. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of the EU Coronavirus Recovery Fund is to be used to implement the climate goals.

Why is there still so much disagreement among states?

As pleased as I am about the agreement and the provision of the funds, I am also aware that it is only a stage victory. After all, in order to achieve the Paris goals, the EU would actually have to set itself a savings target of at least 65 percent by 2030. In addition, no reduction targets have been decided at the individual country level. After all, the overall target can only be achieved if each country makes a tangible contribution. There will certainly be more lively debates on this topic. And yet, it is obvious that the climate crisis endangers the existence of mankind and that we must act quickly and decisively to prevent this. The longer we wait, the more means we will need to deploy to avoid the greatest possible harm.

Only decisive, joint action can stop the crisis

My wish, at the end of the hottest year on record and five years after the groundbreaking Paris climate agreement, is for all players to become aware of the urgency of stopping the climate crisis and, regardless of short-term individual interests, to act jointly. Only then do we have a chance of leaving behind a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.


Here SMA CEO Jürgen Reinert writes about topics that move him.


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