EU Energy and Environment Ministers meeting in Brussels on 4 and 5 March to discuss the European Commission’s draft long-term strategy "A clean planet for all" added momentum for a climate neutral European economy by 2050.
Ministers from nine EU Member States, including Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden firmly stated their support for building a climate neutral European economy by 2050 at the latest. At the same time, none of the other ministers was against adopting the objective. Moreover, in response to numerous calls for stronger action on climate change from Europeans, energy ministers from Austria, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain called upon the EU to take into consideration going for a 100% renewable energy system.
An increasing number of European citizens are expecting EU member States to take more ambitious action. Thousands of people across Europe have been marching and striking in recent months to demand stronger action on climate change from their governments. More protests are expected around the world in the coming weeks, including the main strike on 15 March.
In reaction to the ministers’ debates, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:
“There is clearly growing momentum for the EU to agree to move our economy towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. If the ministers are serious about scientists’ and citizens’ concerns about climate change, they need to reach a decision on reducing emissions to net zero as soon as possible, and massively scale up emission cuts by 2030. To keep temperature rise to 1.5°C, we need to say goodbye to all fossil fuels, massively scale up energy savings and embrace a 100 percent renewable energy future. It will help the economy thrive, create more jobs and make citizens healthier.”
Several ministers highlighted the importance of the UN Secretary General Climate Summit in September 2019, where all countries are expected to put forward new commitments for more climate action. The EU should agree to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 before this summit, so that the details of the strategy can be further discussed ahead of the deadline in 2020. This means that European leaders need to make significant progress in their discussions on the strategy on 21 and 22 March.
According to the Commission’s analysis included in the long-term strategy, achieving net zero emissions in the EU by 2050 will bring the following benefits:
- GDP will increase by up to 2% compared to the baseline scenario;
- employment will increase by 0.9%, representing 2.1 million additional jobs;
- energy import dependence will fall from 55% today to 20% by 2050;
- fossil fuel import bill (currently at €266 billion per year) will drop by over 70%;
- health damages from air pollution caused by fine particulate matter will decrease by around €200 billion per year.
Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Head of Communications, email@example.com, +32 494 525 738
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.