EU aims for net zero emissions by 2050, now it needs to work on raising the 2030 target

Climate action

EU leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday agreed to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, thereby opening the way to start a discussion on raising the EU’s 2030 climate target as soon as possible. Poland has been given time until June to fully endorse the commitment to implement the agreed EU objective.

In November last year the European Commission put forward a proposal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a much needed long-term goal to bring the EU closer to meeting the Paris Agreement goal and keeping temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Wednesday’s European Green Deal communication indicates that the European Commission will propose a new, substantially increased 2030 climate target by summer 2020.

Now that the net-zero emission goal is endorsed, the EU’s top priority is to adopt a new, increased climate target for 2030 well before next year’s UN Climate Summit, COP 26 in November. EU leaders invited the European Commission to present a proposal for a new EU 2030 climate target in good time ahead of the UN Climate Conference. COP26, taking place in Glasgow, is the international deadline by which all parties to the Paris Agreement must submit new and far more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions targets for 2030.

However, a couple of concessions were negotiated. Poland has not been ready to fully commit to the implementation of the objective, but has also not blocked the collective endorsement of climate neutrality by 2050. The June European Council will get back to the issue. Also, climate ambition talks have been partly hijacked by some countries which wanted to promote the nuclear industry. Nuclear energy cannot be considered as a solution to tackle the climate crisis since it is a dangerous, expensive and unsustainable source of energy.

Commenting on the outcome of the European Council, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“Setting a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is a vital and necessary first step to limit the escalating climate crisis. But to jump-start climate action now in line with the 1.5 °C goal, the EU needs to increase its target for 2030, not just for 2050. Given the profound existential threat we are facing, EU leaders cannot allow overly high emissions to continue for another decade. Without an agreement on boosting the 2030 climate target by June next year the latest, the EU would come empty-handed to the crucial EU-China summit in September, thus failing to build international momentum for climate ambition ahead of COP26 in November.”



Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 483 62 18 88

Note for editors:

The Council conclusions are available here:


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.