Climate change: MEPs’ 2050 strategy for carbon neutrality  


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  • Net-zero strategy for 2050 means more ambition for 2030 
  • Net gain of jobs if transition is handled well 
  • Prioritise emission reduction over carbon removal technologies 

Environment committee MEPs also advocated a 55% greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission reduction target for 2030 on Wednesday.

In a non-binding resolution, Environment MEPs note that only two of the eight scenarios (“pathways”) proposed by the European Commission in its November communication would enable the EU to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. They welcome the Commission’s support for these, as this objective is the only one compatible with the Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, they say.

Reaching this goal in the most cost-efficient manner requires raising the 2030 ambition level, say MEPs, who advocate a 55% GHG emission reduction target for 2030 compared to 1990 levels. They call on EU leaders to support raising the level of ambition at the EU summit in Sibiu in May 2019, ahead of the UN climate summit in September.

They note that according to the Commission’s estimates, the EU GDP would increase more under the most ambitious emission reduction scenarios - however with an uneven spread across the EU, due to differences among Member States.

If handled well with the appropriate support for the most vulnerable regions, sectors, and citizens, a just transition towards net-zero GHG emissions has the potential to create a net gain of jobs in the Union. Social impacts should be fully taken into consideration in all EU and national climate policies with a view to ensuring a social and ecological transformation in Europe, they say.

Carbon sinks, carbon removal, carbon capture

The EU’s net-zero strategy should prioritise direct emissions reductions and the enhancing of natural carbon sinks and reservoirs (such as forests). Carbon removal technologies, that have yet to be deployed on a large scale, should be used only where no direct emission reduction options are available.

MEPs acknowledge the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies attributed in the IPCC 1.5°C Special Report. The EU should develop stronger ambition in the area, they say.

The Commission should develop an industrial strategy, with measures allowing the European industry to compete globally on a level-playing field. The Commission should also examine the effectiveness and WTO-compatibility of measures to protect industries at risk of carbon leakage in respect of the imports of products.

Next steps

The motion for a resolution was adopted with 49 votes to 6, and 6 abstentions. It will be put to a vote by the full House during 11-14 March plenary session in Strasbourg.


Parties to the Paris Agreement are invited to communicate, by 2020, their mid-century, long-term low GHG emission development strategies. In the Communication “A Clean Planet for all” adopted on 28 November 2018, the Commission presented its strategic long-term vision for a climate-neutral economy by 2050, including 8 possible pathways.

The Communication presents options, allowing for a thorough debate on the way forward to 2050. This debate should allow the EU to adopt and submit an ambitious strategy by 2020 to the UNFCCC as well as set the direction of the EU's future climate and energy policy.