Policy Brief 4: Some Arguments for Increasing the EU’s 2030 Climate Ambition
Filed in Policy briefs
Under the Paris Agreement, governments agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious emissions-reduction targets, as required by science. Current commitments are not sufficient to keep global warming below 2°C. A tightening of these commitments in the EU by 2020 would, in fact, reflect the current domestic legal framework, which should already lead to deeper decarbonisation than the current target of a 40% emissions cut by 2030 compared to 1990.
More ambition from the EU would help to avoid unnecessary investment, prevent too great a reliance on negative emissions, and keep the 1.5°C ambition within reach. Deferred decarbonisation will lead to a larger power system and cause a short-lived gas-demand bulge, which would imply a higher total cost. At the same time, faster capacity expansion can reduce dramatically the future cost of low-carbon technologies, and switching earlier to faster learning technologies implies economic benefits over time. As the low-carbon technology race is still being run, and certain European regions have the potential to specialise in certain low-carbon technologies, early action can help translate this potential into an actual competitive edge.
Delaying further action in the EU will result in very unbalanced efforts before and after 2030. The steep changes left for the post-2030 period might cause social pain and political instability, and pose an even greater risk to financial stability. To avoid stranded assets and economic disruption in the EU, it is urgent to increase low-carbon investment and phase-out fossil fuel investment.