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24 August 2020

How to raise Europe’s climate ambitions for 2030

Implementing a -55% target in EU policy architecture

How to Raise Europe’s Climate Ambitions for 2030


The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), rescheduled to take place in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021, will be a crucial moment for the Paris Agreement. In applying the accord’s ‘review and ratcheting up’ procedure for the first time, the conference will show whether the  climate treaty can deliver stronger climate action to close the current gap on the way to keeping global warming ‘well below 2 degrees’. To ensure the success of the agreement, the EU must make a substantial contribution to increasing climate action by raising its outdated climate target framework.

The European Commission has announced that by September 2020 it will present a comprehensive plan for increasing the EU’s GHG emissions reduction targets for 2030 to at least 50 per cent and well on the way to 55 per cent relative to 1990 levels. This report, written together with the Öko-Institut, explores the question of ‘How?’ by mapping options for implementing a -55 per cent target in the EU’s policy architecture.

Key findings

  1. An economy-wide -55 per cent GHG 2030 target is technically and economically feasible.

    Technically feasible emissions reductions compatible with the 55 per cent target (relative to 1990) for the EU-27 range from 45 per cent to 49 per cent for the non-ETS sectors and from 59 to 63 per cent for the ETS sectors (both relative to 2005). Our central scenario of -47 per cent for non-ETS sectors and -61 per cent for ETS sectors represents a reasonable balance.

  2. Delivering a climate target of -55 per cent is possible with a mix of additional domestic and EU measures.

    Adopting additional policy measures at the Member State level, enhanced EU-wide policies and measures and a reform of the EU-ETS are the key elements in achieving a higher target. Some Member States have already set climate goals or measures that are broadly in line with higher climate ambition in the non-ETS sectors.

  3. There are many flexibility options that allow Member States to deliver higher climate ambition targets in the effort-sharing sectors.

    These include the trading of AEAs between Member States, enhanced land-use change and afforestation, greater use of ETS allowances and the inclusion of parts of the effort-sharing sectors in the EU ETS. Some of the flexibility options depend to a great extent on early action by Member States in delivering emissions reductions, which is why quick reform proposals are needed.

  4. A -55 per cent target will require changes to the current climate policy architecture and dedicated solidarity mechanisms.

    Member States with below-average GDP per-capita levels will need to make greater contributions than is currently the case; otherwise there will be no credible pathway to climate neutrality by 2050. These additional efforts should be supported by dedicated solidarity mechanisms both within the Effort Sharing Regulation and in the upcoming EU budgets.

Bibliographical data

Jakob Graichen, Dr. Felix Chr. Matthes, Sabine Gores, Felix Fallasch
Publication number
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Publication date

24 August 2020

Suggested Citation
Öko-Institut and Agora Energiewende (2020): How to Raise Europe’s Climate Ambitions for 2030: Implementing a -55% Target in EU Policy Architecture
This publication was produced within the framework of the project Raising Europe’s 2030 climate ambition.


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