New steps in adopting updates in EU climate policy and new scientific report on climate change

1. European Climate Law

The European Council adopted in June the European climate law, ending the adoption procedure and setting into legislation the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050. This follows a political agreement reached with the European Parliament in earlier parts of the year. The climate law enshrines into legislation the 2050 climate neutrality objective.

In addition to the goal of climate neutrality and an aspirational goal for the Union to strive to achieve negative emissions after 2050, the European climate law sets a binding Union climate target of a reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

Background and next steps

The European Council, in its conclusions of 12 December 2019, agreed on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, while also recognising that it is necessary to put in place an enabling framework that benefits all member states and encompasses adequate instruments, incentives, support and investments to ensure a cost-efficient, just, as well as socially balanced and fair transition, taking into account different national circumstances in terms of starting points.

On 4 March 2020, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a European climate law, as an important part of the European Green Deal. On 17 September 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal amending its initial proposal to include a revised EU emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030. The Commission also published a communication on the 2030 climate target plan, accompanied by a comprehensive impact assessment.

On 10-11 December 2020, the European Council in its conclusions, endorsed a binding EU target of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

The Council adopted a general approach on the proposal for a European climate law on 17 December 2020, after which the Council and the Parliament launched a series of trilogue meetings with the aim of securing an agreement on the final text.

The Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the proposal on 21 April 2021.

Now that the European climate law has been adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council, it will be signed and published in the Official Journal, before entering into force.


2. EU ‘Fit for 55’ package

The Fit for 55 package is a set of proposals presented in July 2021 by the European Commission to revise and update EU legislation and to put in place new initiatives with the aim of ensuring that EU policies are in line with the climate goals agreed by the Council and the European Parliament.

'Fit for 55' refers to the at least 55% emission reduction target which the EU has set for 2030. The proposed package aims to bring the EU’s climate and energy legislation in line with the 2030 goal.

The package of proposals aims at providing a coherent and balanced framework for reaching the EU's climate objectives that is fair and socially just, maintains and strengthens innovation and competitiveness of EU industry while ensuring a level playing field vis-à-vis third country economic operators and underpins the EU's position as leading the way in the global fight against climate change.

What is included in the package?

The Fit for 55 package contains a number of legislative proposals and policy initiatives including:

  • a revision of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), including its extension to shipping, revision of the rules for aviation emissions and establishing a separate emission trading system for road transport and buildings
  • a revision of the effort sharing regulation on member states’ reduction targets in sectors outside the EU ETS
  • a revision of the regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)
  • a revision of the renewable energy directive
  • a recast of the energy efficiency directive
  • a revision of the directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure
  • an amendment of the regulation setting CO2 emission standards for cars and vans
  • a revision of the energy tax directive
  • a carbon border adjustment mechanism
  • a social climate fund
  • EU forest strategy


3. New Scientific Report on Climate Change

Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame, according to the latest much-anticipated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on 9 August.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Many of these changes are unprecedented, and some of the shifts are in motion now, while some - such as continued sea level rise – are already ‘irreversible’ for centuries to millennia, ahead, the report warns. But there is still time to limit climate change,

In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years, and concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide were higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over a least the last 2,000 years. For example, temperatures during the most recent decade (2011–2020) exceed those of the most recent multi-century warm period, around 6,500 years ago, the report indicates.

The document shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming between 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of heating.

The full UN press release you can find here:

Summary of the report can be downloaded here: IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf

Full report can be downloaded here: IPCC_AR6_WGI_Full_Report.pdf