EU leaders must raise climate ambition to curb rising costs of global warming to the continent
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EU leaders must raise climate ambition to curb rising costs of global warming to the continent


EU heads of state and government will discuss the level of the new EU 2030 emission reductions target at the European Council this week. Raising the climate ambition of the bloc in line with the Paris Agreement is essential to limit the growing economic costs of global warming, estimated to reach by mid-century more than 175 billion euros each year for the EU, with economic damages in Southern and Eastern economies being double the average.

Before the end of the year, the EU must adopt a substantially increased 2030 climate target. Current ambition levels are not enough to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, estimated to reach by mid-century over 175 billion euros a year in the EU alone, according to the Joint Research Center.

When discussing the recent proposal of the European Commission to increase the target to at least 55% later this week, EU leaders need to take the devastating impacts of insufficient climate action into account. Turning the tide of expanding economic costs due to insufficient climate action requires the EU to aim at drastic emission cuts in the short term in line with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. According to the latest available science and the United Nations’ equity principle, the EU should agree to an emission reduction goal of 65% by 2030.

How do Member States currently position themselves? What are the economic costs of climate change across Member States today? The briefing “Mapping of climate ambition and climate change impacts in the EU” shows that a majority of countries have already expressed support for the “at least -55%” proposal of the European Commission, or for higher targets like Denmark and Finland, while several countries from Central and Eastern Europe have not expressed their opinion nor have reacted to the proposal yet, despite being amongst hardest hit by climate change impacts. (1)

Welfare losses due to insufficient climate action are projected to represent over 1-2% of the gross domestic products of the majority of EU Member States by mid-century, and more than 2% in Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Cyprus for instance.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “EU leaders must see the writing on the wall: low climate targets would come at a very high price! The increased frequency and severity of climate change impacts already have dire effects on European economies, causing welfare losses of over 12 billion euros every year. EU leaders can turn the tide if they commit to slashing emissions drastically in the short term.” (2)

Last week the European Parliament agreed on a 2030 climate target for the EU of 60% emission cuts, excluding carbon removals from sinks. This is not only well beyond the European Commission’s 55% net goal, but it also ensures that the accounting of carbon sinks does not decrease emission reduction efforts on polluting sectors.

Trio added: “EU leaders must increase the climate target level to 65% emission cuts as required by science and international equity. This is the game-changer the world desperately needs, leading to safer, less costly climate change impacts for everyone.”


Nicolas Derobert, Head of communications,, +32 483 62 18 88

Notes to editors:

(1) Media Briefing “Mapping of climate ambition and climate change impacts in the EU”, October 2020

(2) Climate change-related economic losses for the EU amounted to 12.1 billion euros in 2017, Sustainable development in the European Union, 2020.

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