The European Commission is recommending a 90% net greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal by 2040 that would make the European Union carbon neutral by 2050.
An EC impact assessment published Feb. 6 said setting a 2040 climate target "will help European industry, investors, citizens and governments to make decisions in this decade that will keep the EU on track to meet its climate neutrality objective in 2050 (and) will send important signals on how to invest and plan effectively for the longer term, minimising the risks of stranded assets."
According to the impact assessment, reaching the goal of 90% reduction over 1990 levels will involve ongoing discussions with stakeholders and a legislative proposal that is expected after European elections this summer. The European Parliament and EU members will also need to agree on 2040 targets.
The recommendation is based on advice of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change and EU commitments made under the Paris Agreement. The expert advisory board said a cut of 90% to 95% by 2050 would be "fair and feasible."
The target should also help improve the EU's energy independence from fossil fuel imports, which in 2022 made up more than 4% of gross domestic product, the commission said. It estimated that higher global warming as a result of inaction could lower the EU's GDP by 7% or more by the end of the century.
According to the EC projections, the energy sector will achieve full decarbonization shortly after 2040, based on all zero- and low-carbon energy solutions, including renewables, nuclear, energy efficiency, storage, carbon capture and storage, carbon capture and utilization, carbon removals, geothermal and hydropower.
"The Green Deal now needs to become an industrial decarbonization deal that builds on existing industrial strengths, like wind power, hydropower, and electrolysers, and continues to increase domestic manufacturing capacity in growth sectors like batteries, electric vehicles, heat pumps, solar PV, CCU/CCS, biogas and biomethane, and the circular economy," the assessment said. A new EC task force will develop a global approach to carbon pricing and carbon markets.