EU on track to reach agreement on net zero emissions by 2050 this week

Climate action

Strong support from progressive countries key to a successful outcome

Brussels, 17th June 2019, for immediate release

Feeling the pressure from the public, and in particular from young people, EU governments are getting closer to reaching an agreement on achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and on raising the EU’s 2030 climate target [1]. With only a few Central European governments still on the fence [2], the decision can be made already at the upcoming EU Heads of State and Government meeting in Brussels on 20-21 June.

Recording of a press briefing held by CAN Europe on 17 June available here

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has also urged the EU to step up its climate goals in a letter leaked by the media last week [3], putting further pressure on EU leaders to reach an agreement already at the June European Council. He called for adopting a long-term vision for a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and a commitment to increasing the EU’s 2030 climate target to 55 percent reductions in emissions.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“EU leaders cannot neglect the UN Secretary General’s call for more action to tackle the climate emergency. The European Council needs to commit to achieving net zero emissions and increasing the 2030 climate target, in line with the Paris Agreement’s objective to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Delaying this decision would leave the EU empty-handed at the September Climate Action Summit and be a major blow to the EU’s international reputation as a climate leader.”

Anelia Stefanova, Programme Director of CEE Bankwatch Network said:

“It is only a few Eastern European countries like Bulgaria and Poland that still want to postpone a decision on increasing the EU’s climate action, despite the fact that it is in their best interest. First, their citizens are among those most affected by the climate crisis in Europe. Second, as they would benefit most from the new EU budget that offer significantly increased funding for climate action in support of going to net zero emissions.”

Petr Doubravský, 17-year-old climate activist and Fridays for Future Czech Republic co-spokeperson said:

“Our leaders in Eastern Europe are still protecting the profits of the fossil industry instead of protecting our future and our lives. So far they have dismissed the pleas of our generation who will suffer most because of climate change. We are determined to continue striking until they listen and act.”

Brook Riley, Head of EU Public Affairs at Rockwool International said:

“The clock is ticking on climate change. It’s very clear that going climate neutral by 2050 is the only acceptable outcome. By adopting ambitious goals, EU leaders will cut risks and costs, and open the gates for many billions of euros of investment in Europe. This will improve living standards, accelerate job creation and foster sustainable economies.”

To keep temperature rise to safe levels, the EU needs to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2040 and to achieve 65% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030.

The National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) and the EU budget are two important tools that can help EU countries boost the energy transition and achieve ambitious climate objectives by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. On 18 June, the European Commission is expected to publish recommendations for each EU country’s draft plans for how they will met the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets. On 25 June, EU national governments are due to decide on future EU budget for investments in climate action.


Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Head of Communications,, +32 494 525 738


[1] At least 22* countries currently vocally support the agreement on achieving net zero emissions by 2050: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the UK.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden have signed the Non paper on Climate for the future of Europe:

Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Italy have signed the Valetta declaration:

The UK and Finland have committed to achieving net zero emissions at the national level (by 2050 and 2035, respectively). Germany and Slovenia have made public statements in support of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Support for the net zero by 2050 target is also part of the Austrian government’s position from April.

Amended on 18 June: On 17 and 18 June Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland and Slovakia and  announced their support for the net zero by 2050 target. Ireland’s climate plan launched on 17 June states that the government supports the adoption of a net zero target by 2050 at EU level (p.19 here). On 18 June, Hungarian minister was quoted by the Nepszava newspaper saying “by 2050 the goal is total carbon neutrality”; Slovak prime minister and new president Zuzana Čapútová announced that Slovakia will join the alliance supporting the net-zero target by 2050 at the June Council; and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated that he would to see the EU become a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to be carbon neutral by 2050. 

[2] Media briefing: the battle over the EU’s climate ambition:

[3] U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres letter:

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.


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