European Parliament votes in favour of higher climate ambition

7 October 2020 

The European Parliament has voted to up the bloc’s climate target to a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

The Parliament’s goalpost for end of decade emissions has moved substantially, as the current target for 2030 is 40 per cent. 

The figure is also an increase from the European Commission’s proposal of “at least” a 55 per cent emissions reduction which was announced last month. 

The vote signalled that the European Union are “more than ever at the forefront of climate ambition”, according to French MEP and chair of the Parliament’s environment committee Pascal Canfin.

Fine Gael MEPs voted against the target increase, while the remaining Irish MEPs all voted in favour.

“A major step forward” 

The vote is a major step forward for the bloc’s climate ambition though it is “still too low for aligning the EU with the latest available science and the 1.5 C goal of the Paris Agreement”, according to Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. 

The bloc would need to aim for “at least” 65 per cent emission cuts in order to align with Paris, according to the network.

“The Parliament’s ambitious 2030 climate target proposal for the EU clearly drives the climate debate in the right direction,” CAN Europe Director Wendel Trio said. 

“Member States must see the Parliament’s climate target proposal as a baseline that should be improved for the EU to honour its commitments under the Paris Agreement,” he added. 

The text of the amendment upping the target will now go to the EU Council of Ministers for negotiation.  

Previous target increases

Last month, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said when announcing the Commission’s 55 per cent target that it would be “too much for some, and not enough for others”. 

“But our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can manage this,” she said. 

An increased target would require the European Green Deal to serve as a “blueprint” for transformation and that every sector will have to play its part. 

The 65 per cent target required to meet Paris Agreement obligations was initially proposed by MEP Jytte Guteland who argued that climate targets must align with “what scientists said is necessary”. 

The 65 per cent target is also aligned with the equity principles within the Paris Agreement that are based on how much warming a state has already produced as a result of fossil-fuelled industrialisation. 

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Kayle Crosson