EU Scientific Advisory Board advice vindicates NGO calls for much more radical climate action by 2040
3 min read

EU Scientific Advisory Board advice vindicates NGO calls for much more radical climate action by 2040

Today the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) called for a 90-95% cut in net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU by 2040 in its latest report, and suggested a GHG budget of just 11 to 14 Gt CO2e between 2030 and 2050 (EU emissions in 2021 were 3.6 Gt). Crucially, it recognises that even this would not reflect a fair share of the remaining global carbon budget, and that faster emission cuts before 2030 would be both possible and more equitable.The advice highlights that a cut of 95% in GHG emissions by 2040 is possible, while remaining beneath environmental risk levels (e.g. avoiding relying on large-scale use of CCS). While it essentially sticks to the task it was set, and only provides a carbon budget for the post-2030 period, the board notes that “additional efforts to increase the ambition beyond 55% (up to 70% or more by 2030) would considerably decrease the EU’s cumulative emissions until 2050, and thus increase the fairness of the EU’s contribution to global mitigation”. This would suggest that even faster action than the board is recommending would be possible. WWF’s position is that the EU should aim to reach climate neutrality - a 100% reduction in net GHG emissions - by 2040, and to cut emissions by 2030 by 65%.

“The ESABCC should be commended for this powerful and important report, and the huge amount of analysis that went into it. It makes clear that much more radical action to cut emissions is essential if we are to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C,” said Alex Mason, Head of Climate & Energy at WWF European Policy Office.

“The EU has essentially already exhausted its fair share of the global carbon budget and should be aiming for much faster emission cuts before 2030. The financial crisis, the Covid pandemic and the energy crisis have shown what governments can do when they put their minds to it, and could do if they treated the climate crisis as the emergency it is,” he added.

Additionally, the Advisory Board delivers concrete political advice to the EU, which must aim for the highest ambition in domestic emission reductions and sustainable carbon removals, while contributing to direct emission reductions outside the EU and pursuing sustainable net-negative emissions after 2050.

This report highlights how valuable it is to have independent advisory bodies to enhance the EU's climate governance framework, and should work as an example to implement such advisory bodies in every EU Member States.

“The ESABCC only started work last year, but with this report and others it is already showing its vital role in climate policy-making. Now is the time for EU policy makers to finally start listening to science, recognise that we are facing a climate emergency, and aim for climate-neutrality by 2040 and a 65% cut in GHG emissions by 2030,” said Michael Sicauld-Clyet, Climate & Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

These recommendations come as the European Union is negotiating international climate action at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, where process issues and a lack of trust have stalled progress on key issues.

“EU leaders must take into account the recommendations of the ESABCC and in WWF’s view follow the UN Secretary General António Guterres’ call on developed economies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 instead of 2050. The EU should do this by integrating the recommendations in its 2030 and forthcoming 2035 EU climate plans, which would make the EU a frontrunner in credible climate action. This is a worthy trust building commitment that the EU and its member states could take to the UN Secretary General's Climate Action Summit in September and to COP28 in November in Dubai,” said Shirley Matheson, Global NDC Enhancement Coordinator at WWF European Policy Office and present in Bonn.

Florian Cassier
Climate Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
+32 479 33 92 11

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