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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2040

Europe in 2021 passed the European Climate Law, which set the goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, and increased the interim European target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 40% to 55% net by 2030 compared to 1990. In the recently published Communication, the European Commission recommends a new interim ambition to reduce emissions by a net 90% by 2040 compared to 1990 levels. To achieve this 90% reduction, the EU’s remaining emissions level in 2040 would need to be less than about 850 million tonnes of carbon (MtCO2) and carbon removals from the atmosphere through carbon removals from land use and industrial technologies would need to reach around 400 MtCO2. Setting a 2040 climate target will help European industry, investors, citizens and governments make investment and consumption decisions that keep the European Union (EU) on track to reach its goal of zero emissions by 2050. It will send important signals on how to invest and plan effectively for the long term, minimizing the risks of obsolete assets. It will also boost Europe’s resilience to future energy crises and, in particular, reinforce the EU’s goal of increasing its energy independence from fossil fuel imports, which accounted for more than 4% of GDP in 2022, generating significant savings. This will also lead to significant benefits in terms of costs and human effects of climate change. This communication is the starting point on which the new EU strategy will have to pivot in the next mandate. A comprehensive ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package was launched in this legislature, with which Europe has reformed and implemented environmental policies aimed at achieving the first intermediate target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030. In order to achieve this new target by 2040, the set of regulations will need to be more ambitious before the new decade begins.

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