The European Parliament voted to update the EU’s climate target for 2030, backing a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade, up from the current 40%. Lawmakers passed the proposal by 352 votes to 326, with 18 abstentions, sending the text to the EU Council of Ministers for final approval.
The Parliament’s decision was part of a wider vote on a proposed European Climate Law, which seeks to pass the EU’s goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 into law. Jytte Guteland, the rapporteur on the proposed legislation, celebrated the news on her social media networks.
— Jytte Guteland (@JytteGuteland) October 7, 2020
The European Commission had earlier this year presented a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, a target that was now increased by the vote. The Commission carried out an impact assessment of its proposal and described it as achievable for all sectors of the economy.
Some lawmakers highlighted their rejection of going beyond the 55%, claiming the approved 60% target would be too expensive to implement for Europe’s industry. Peter Liese, a German lawmaker from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), said the goal was “overambitious”.
“I regret that the majority in the European Parliament did not support the European Commission’s Climate Law proposal but voted for the overambitious 60%,” Liese said on Twitter, claiming the 55% target is the most feasible. “We sincerely dislike [this target] and think it really endangers jobs.”
Environmental campaigners, for their part, described the vote as a victory in the fight against climate change. “The European Parliament is to be applauded for taking a position that is far more progressive than the Commission’s 55% ‘net’ proposal,” said the WWF in a press release.
However, the NGO added that the 60% target for 2030 is still not consistent with the 1.5-2°C target of the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015. Environmental organizations such as WWF have called instead for 65% emissions reductions by 2030, as well as a separate target for carbon removal from sinks.
As well as greenlighting the 60% target, European lawmakers also voted in favor of proposals ensuring that each EU member state reaches climate neutrality individually by 2050. The alternative would have seen some EU countries allowed to overshoot the 2050 target provided that others meet it early.
On the other hand, lawmakers rejected the proposal to rely on carbon sinks like forests and grasslands to meet the 2030 climate target. They also voted down an amendment tabled by the EPP that would have included carbon-cutting projects in developing countries in the EU’s climate goals, claiming EU’s climate goals should be met based only on domestic emission cuts.