EU must sharpen 2030 targets!

The EU must now sharpen its climate policy targets as a consequence of the international agreement in Paris last December. 196 governments agreed on the long-term target to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C compared with preindustrial times. This follows the conclusion of the scientific review by the United Nations during 2013–2015, which concluded that dangerous climate change would occur even below 2 degrees. The risks include threats to food security, low-lying islands and coastlines, and several global ecosystems. 

There is a special concern about global habitats such as sea ice, glaciers, high mountains, boreal forests, tropical mountain rainforests, coral reefs and oceans that would not survive in their present state at 2 degrees warming. One example could be the Baltic Sea, and the possible risks are presented in this issue of Acid News (pages 1–4).

Climate Action Network (CAN International) is therefore demanding that we stay below 1.5 C. This is also the demand of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which include more than 100 countries. Scientists have for example reported that the Greenland Ice Sheet could melt between 1.2 and 2 degrees global temperature rise. 

The main demand of CAN International is to phase out all fossil fuel emissions and to phase in a 100% renewable energy future with sustainable energy access for all, as early as possible, but not later than 2050. This means that the EU, as one of the wealthiest regions in the world, for equity reasons, has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions even earlier, by around 2030–2035, to give developing countries 15 extra years to phase out their use of fossil fuels by 2050.

Leading scientific and climate policy experts (1) therefore recommend that the EU should phase out the use of coal by 2025. Several countries in Europe, including Austria and the United Kingdom, have now taken such decisions. Such a coal phase-out plan is also being debated in Germany, as described in this issue (page 18), and the EU must now decide on a similar plan. 

The development of carbon capture and storage schemes has failed and should not be promoted by the EU. The Norwegian example is a reminder of how a false strategy has created hope for 20 years and contributed to delaying climate action (see article on page 3 and the new APC 33 report published by AirClim). Public opposition to CCS is very strong in the EU, as described in the article on page 22. Furthermore, the viability of CCS for reducing industrial emissions has not been proven, and industry should instead work on alternative production technologies and methodologies.

In my opinion CO₂ emissions from energy production and land use, must be reduced to zero globally by 2035.The EU must therefore now also start to discuss the phasing out of natural gas, a fossil fuel. A new AirClim report presented on page 10 describes the current situation and the problems with the fossil gas industry. 

Leading scientific and climate policy experts (1) are also suggesting that to avoid exceeding the 1.5 C target the EU should make sure all vehicles are electrified by 2035. The political decisions must be taken now by the EU to implement this transport policy proposal due to the long life of new vehicles.

The EU and the UN must also take steps to control emissions from bunker fuels and prepare steps to phase out fossil fuels from these sectors. Bunker fuels were not included in the Paris agreement even though CO₂ emissions from these fuels already accounted for 3–4 per cent of global emissions in 2012, and these emissions are expected to rise by 200 per cent. ICAO and IMO are extremely slow to decide about regulating emissions from these sectors and the EU and UN must therefore deliver strong regulatory decisions in this area now!

Reinhold Pape


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