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Increasing 2030 EU climate targets is “feasible”

25 August 2020 

Upping the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target for the European Union is “technically and economically feasible”, a new report has found. 

The Agora Energiewende and Okeo Institut-led study comes just weeks before the European Commission is set to present its newly revised climate targets and plans for the end of the decade. 

The Commission is expected to present a blueprint on how to increase the bloc’s ten-year climate target to at least a 50 per cent reduction in emissions, and towards “55 per cent”, when compared with 1990 levels. 

Currently, the EU is committed to reduce its bloc-wide emissions by 40 per cent in the next ten years when compared to the same baseline. 

The 55 per cent target can be met through a mix of additional domestic and EU measures, like improving land use and afforestation, and will require changes to the current climate policy architecture and dedicated solidarity mechanisms, according to the report. 

Meeting such a target would involve overseeing a 59 to 63 per cent decrease in emissions from 2005 levels in ETS sectors, and a 45 to 49 per cent reduction of emissions from 2005 levels in non-ETS sectors, which are namely emissions from homes, cars, small businesses and agriculture. 

Keeping warming below the 2 degree threshold, the point above which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called “catastrophic”, will require the European Union to move “further and faster” on climate measures if it is to become climate-neutral by 2050. 

The Commission will present its plan next month, and it is anticipated to become a focal point of debate between parliaments, governments and stakeholders across Europe. 

Ireland was marked out as the second highest EU emitter per capita by the report, just a spot below Luxembourg. 

However, the authors did note that some projections, including Ireland’s, do not yet reflect ramped up climate targets set within the last year, as the new government has pledged to reduce the State’s emissions by 7 per cent per annum over the next ten years. 

Ireland and non-ETS emissions 

Ireland had previously committed to reducing it’s non-ETS emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, compared to the 2005 benchmark.

To date, the state is on track to see only a 1 per cent reduction, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 

The biggest source of non-ETS CO2 emissions in Ireland is from the burning of fossil fuels, particularly in homes and cars, according to the SEAI. Agriculture comes in at a close second, as it accounts for almost half of all non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions in the state. 

Agriculture is responsible for a third of the State’s total greenhouse gas emissions, making Ireland an outlier when compared to the rest of the bloc, as the EU average for agricultural emissions is 10 per cent. 

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