European climate policy: We cannot afford to lean back now

As Chairman of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, MCC Director Ottmar Edenhofer presents a big report. Presentation remains available online.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announces the European Green Deal in 2019

It is a good four years ago: In December 2019, the President of the European Commission announced the EU Green Deal, with the aim of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. | Archive picture: Shutterstock/Economou


More efforts are needed across all sectors to achieve the EU climate goals from 2030 to 2050, states a new report by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC). The report “Towards EU climate neutrality: progress, policy gaps and opportunities” identifies main gaps in the EU’s post-2030 climate policy. The body is chaired by Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Berlin-based climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Specifically, the report calls for the provision of a stable investment outlook for renewables, and for the revision of the EU energy taxation. “Reaching climate neutrality by 2050 is a race against the clock, and we cannot afford to lean back now,” says Edenhofer. “To stay on track, we need to make sure actions today are in line with our long-term goals, and to start preparing for even deeper reductions after 2030.”

The report outlines key recommendations for a more effective implementation and design of the EU climate policy framework in all sectors, particularly in buildings, transport, agriculture, and forestry. ESABCC finds that EU’s own policies are not yet fully aligned with the need to phase out fossil fuels. The board advises to reform existing EU policies for the post-2030 period, including additional adjustments to the existing EU emissions trading systems (EU ETS). New policies are needed to achieve more ambitious reductions in the demand for material, energy and greenhouse gas-intensive products.

The Advisory Board recommends fully phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, which have remained stable at 50 billion euros per year across the EU. As emissions in agriculture are not decreasing, the report suggests shifting support away from emission-intensive agricultural practices such as livestock production, and towards lower-emitting products and activities. Furthermore, an introduction of some form of emissions pricing in the agricultural and land use sectors by 2031 at the latest is needed. The implementation of redistributive measures targeted at the most vulnerable and impacted households and businesses could help to ensure that public support for climate action is maintained.

The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change is an independent body providing the EU with scientific knowledge, expertise and advice relating to climate change. The Advisory Board evaluates policies and identifies actions and opportunities to successfully achieve the EU’s climate targets. It was established in 2021 by the European Climate Law and consists of 15 independent senior scientific experts covering a broad range of relevant disciplines.


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