More climate ambition in the EU and Germany needed now

The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. This means that total residual emissions should not be higher than the CO2 permanently sequestered from the atmosphere by forests, etc.

In moving towards this goal, the current climate target for 2030 has been increased to at least 55 percent fewer emissions than in 1990. It is also important to ensure that there are no loopholes that would lead to a softening of the target, such as international compensation measures. What’s more, the journey is as important as the destination: fast action to reduce emissions now will substantially lower overall emissions to 2050.

Every tenth of a degree of warming avoided is worth the effort

Germany, too, has adopted climate neutrality as its long-term goal to 2050. As Germany accounts for around a quarter of the EU’s total emissions, it has a key role to play in achieving the climate targets.

Europe’s raft of climate targets in need of adjustment

In order to achieve a 55 per cent reduction in EU-wide emissions by 2030, all sectors must make their contribution – and that means adjusting the European climate targets.

  • Emissions covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) should be reduced by 59 to 63 per cent relative to 2005, instead of the current proposed figure of 43 per cent. This applies to emissions from the energy sector and industry.
  • Likewise, sectors covered by the EU Effort Sharing Regulation should achieve emissions reductions ranging from 45 per cent to 49 per cent, rather than 30 per cent, which is the current target. This Regulation covers emissions from transport, buildings, agriculture and the waste sector and sets binding national annual reduction targets.
  • Natural sinks such as the ocean, forests and bogs capture and store carbon dioxide for the long term. A 2030 target is required here as well, in order to incentivise the enhancement of sinks. Europe’s forests are currently storing less CO2 than in previous decades.

A mix of carbon pricing, standards and regulations is needed

The climate targets can only be reached with a mix of instruments covering all sectors. Alongside carbon pricing, higher standards and regulations on energy efficiency and renewables must be adopted, for example. Their implementation should also be monitored more rigorously.

Carbon pricing alone will not produce significant emissions reductions, least of all in the transport and construction sectors, where the existing infrastructure and building stock determine energy consumption and behavioural patterns. It will therefore take a more radical transformation to achieve the emission reductions needed here. This will take time, however, so an early start is essential. Additional measures are the key to initiating this restructuring at the required scale.

Infographs on the topic of climate ambition (Flickr)  

Raising the level of climate ambition: information and services from the Oeko-Institut

The Oeko-Institut’s experts have been working on climate issues for many years. They produce:

  • potential analyses
  • emissions audits and material flow analyses,
  • emissions inventories and forecasts, and
  • energy and climate protection scenarios

The work also involves assessing energy and climate policy instruments and analysing various aspects of implementation. The Oeko-Institut’s energy experts conduct research not only in Germany but also in the European Union, Eastern Europe, the US and some African, Latin American and South-East Asian countries.

General information

EU emissions trading

EU Effort Sharing Regulation

International climate policy

Further information