Getting granular on the process and identifying cornerstones for discussion

Turning points for the ambition of European climate targets

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Climate policy in the European Union (EU) is undergoing a paradigm shift. At the time of writing, policy-makers are debating changes in targets, governance and instruments to fit (better) with the newly established overarching objective of climate-neutrality by 2050 and to align with the Paris Agreement.

The results of this process will be crucial for the development of reduction efforts (and emission pathways) in the EU and its Member States but also have the potential to influence the international level. This document aims to inform the debate surrounding the proposal of a European Climate Law and the establishment of European greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, a process that will begin in earnest in September 2020 after the publication of the European Commission’s impact assessment.

In the following, we highlight interlinkages between relevant processes at the European level and those under the Paris Agreement. An overview diagram visualises the current timeline of these processes and helps to identify critical moments, or windows of opportunity, for raising EU ambition in the coming decades. The European climate governance architecture, composed of GHG targets and supporting instruments, includes a broad variety of key elements. To help understand their relevance on the results of the target setting, their qualitative effects are discussed and presented in an overview figure.