EU Commission to recommend 90% emissions cut by 2040

A debate on the target comes amid disruptive farmers' protests in the bloc and ahead of the elections

Representative image (photo: DW)
Representative image (photo: DW)


The European Commission is ready to recommend a 90% net greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2040 on Tuesday, 6 February, in a session due to kick off the political debate on the target.

The 2040 target should be on track with the bloc's plans to have net zero emissions by 2050.

However, the session comes at a time when the bloc is faced with angry farmers staging disruptive protests that criticise, among other things, what they say are overly ambitious EU climate goals.

It also comes as the bloc braces for elections over the summer, where the far-right, which has been capitalising on the farmers' protests, is likely to make gains.

What do we know about the 2040 target?

News agencies have reported that drafts of the Commission recommendation show the EU will endorse the 90% target for net greenhouse gas cuts, compared with 1990 levels.

In 2022, emissions were reduced by 33% from 1990 levels.

If the new target is recommended on Tuesday, it will still be up to the new Commission, which will be established after the summer vote, to lay out a final legal proposal.

A second EU document expected on Tuesday will outline plans to capture and store hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. This is among the many climate areas that need huge investment in new technologies.

Why is the target controversial?

A growing movement of farmers protesting the social and economic impact of the EU Green Deal has mobilized against it. Farmers descended on Brussels with hundreds of tractors last week as they sought to highlight their grievances.

Eleven states sent Brussels a joint letter urging the commission to set an "ambitious EU climate target" for 2040, the French AFP news agency reported. They include France, Germany and Spain, which have all seen significant disruptive farmers' protests.

The states also call for a "fair and just transition," that should "leave no one behind, especially the most vulnerable citizens."

"Climate action has to take everybody along," the draft of the Commission's recommendation, seen by the Reuters news agency before the session, also said.

Several bloc leaders have started calling for a "pause" in new environmental rules.

EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra warned that the bloc needed to stand "on two legs." One leg represents climate ambitions, while the other is about "making sure our businesses stay competitive, there is a just transition."

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