European Commission takes a step forward on climate change

Climate action

The proposal to upgrade the EU’s long-term target to net zero emissions by 2050 included in the draft Long-Term EU Climate Strategy released by the European Commission today is an important step forward, but it is likely not enough to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

To have a good chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, while avoiding heavy reliance on unproven carbon removal techniques, the EU would need to fully decarbonize already by 2040 and significantly increase its 2030 climate target, even beyond the 55% reduction some Member States and the European Parliament are calling for.

Commenting on the draft strategy, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“A proposal to go for net zero emissions by 2050 marks a dramatic change in direction. Three years after adopting the Paris Agreement, the EU is finally starting the debate about increasing climate action in line with the Agreement’s goals. By opting for net zero emissions by 2050, the EU will be better equipped to prevent the climate catastrophe.

But this commitment alone would not be enough to pull us back from the brink of the climate breakdown. As a matter of urgency, the EU needs to massively increase the 2030 target. It is the short term emission cuts that will make or break our response to climate change.”

Going to net zero emissions as soon as possible would not only increase the chances to avert the most severe impacts of climate change, but also allow the EU to reap numerous co-benefits ranging from billions of savings in public health costs to boosting Europe’s competitiveness in a decarbonized global economy.

The proposal sets the stage for negotiations among European governments about how much the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and what action it should take to make sure it achieves the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

CAN Europe calls upon EU leaders attending the upcoming climate summit COP24 to clearly state their support for a substantial increase of both the short-term and the long-term EU targets. Climate Ministers need to ensure both an ambitious long term strategy is agreed and all necessary policies, measures and targets in line with the 1.5°C commitment are developed as quickly as possible and well before the 2020 deadline adopted in Paris.


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


[1] European Commission, press release on the EU long-term climate strategy:

[2] CAN Europe briefing ‘EU Long Term Strategy and the Paris Agreement’: 

[3] CAN Europe position on Europe’s long term targets: 

[4] CAN Europe press release, 10 EU countries call for raising the bar of the EU’s long term climate plan,

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.