Coalition for Higher Ambition Rallies Broad Support for a Science-Based 2040 Climate Target

Climate action


Coalition for Higher Ambition Rallies Broad Support for a Science-Based 2040 Climate Target


Brussels, 25 January 2024 Ahead of the European Commission’s Communication on the EU Climate Target 2040 – a broad alliance of 14 European business and investor organisations, local and regional governments and civil society organisations are calling for a science-based target of at least 90% net emission reductions to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C. 

In a letter addressed to the Presidents of the three main institutions of the EU and Ministers of the Belgian Presidency – the Coalition for Higher Ambition (HAC) has today called for the proposal of a EU 2040 climate target of at least 90% net emission reductions, compared to 1990 levels. This aligns with the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change’s (ESABCC) advice to achieve a net emission reduction of 90% to 95% by 2040, who also noted that pursuing the most ambitious end of the range would improve the fairness of the EU’s contribution. Some members of the coalition, including CAN Europe, go further and call for even higher levels of ambition.

‘The diversity, size and collective expertise of the coalition calling for a science-based target is telling,” said Chiara Martinelli, Director, CAN Europe. ‘High ambition now can bring about a green and just transformation across sectors – resulting in job creation, economic opportunities, improved public health, poverty reduction, social protections, natural resource preservation and energy security, well before 2040’. 

With temperatures surpassing 2.1°C above pre-industrial levels, Europe is already experiencing the severe impacts of climate change, resulting in destructive heatwaves, droughts, floods, forest fires and unprecedented biodiversity loss. Despite these challenges, a significant ambition gap still exists in emissions reduction efforts. The proposal of a 2040 target is a vital obligation under the European Climate Law and follows the conclusion of COP28’s Global Stocktake. In the letter, the HAC emphasises the crucial role of EU leadership in setting an ambitious climate target to bridge the gap in the EU’s path towards its climate neutrality goal. 

From the coalition members:

‘As the champions of the energy efficiency ecosystem, we fully support the call for a more ambitious EU emission reduction goal. Urging the Commission to keep up its ambition, we echo the advice of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change to reduce emissions by 90% by 2040. Let’s infuse every corner of industry with the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ vibe – it’s the EU’s time to make a splash!’ – Monica Frassoni, President, European Alliance to Save Energy 

‘The European Union needs an ambitious 2040 climate target of at least 90% greenhouse gases reduction compared to 1990. To achieve this goal, accelerating the decarbonisation of heating and cooling will be critical, unlocking the potential of mature, ready-to-deploy, clean and EU-based technologies such as solar heat.’Valérie Séjourné, Managing Director, Solar Heat Europe

Envisioning a climate-neutral Europe by 2040, EAPN emphasises the imperative for a transformative climate transition rooted in social justice. Our commitment extends beyond environmental targets to address the root causes of poverty, ensuring no one is marginalised in pursuing a sustainable future. We call for bold action to safeguard our planet and prioritise the well-being of all people in Europe – a testament to our unwavering vision for inclusivity and sustainability’ Juliana Wahlgren, Director, European Anti Poverty Network

‘CDP data shows that just 8% of European companies have net-zero targets to decarbonise their entire value chain by 2050. If the economy is to work for people and the planet in the long run, we need concrete steps to get there. Reducing emissions from 90% to 95% by 2040 is the least we can aim for to secure a thriving future for generations to come.’ Maxfield Weiss, Executive Director, CDP Europe

‘The EU must now set a robust and feasible climate target for 2040 that provides long term certainty and encourages businesses to decarbonise in a way that benefits the economy and society. Based on the evidence, we are calling for a target of ‘at least 90%’ emissions cuts by 2040. This sends a strong signal to accelerate the clean energy transition, essential to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and ensure the EU’s future resilience and industrial competitiveness.’ – Ursula Woodburn, Director, Corporate Leaders Group Europe


Notes to the editor:

  • The letter and list of signatories can be read in its entirety here.
  • The Coalition for Higher Ambition, convened by CAN Europe, is a unique gathering of businesses, investor groups, local and regional authorities, trade unions and civil society groups, standing together to advocate for the EU to ramp up its climate action. Organisations joining the Coalition for Higher Ambition represent major stakeholders from across Europe and a cross section of the European economy, demonstrating the breadth and depth of the call for climate leadership. Read more here.
  • Whilst the broad coalition calls for at least 90% net emission reductions by 2040 (relative to 1990 levels), some members of the coalition, including CAN Europe, call for even higher levels of ambition (in CAN Europe’s case – 100% net emission reductions by 2040 at the latest).


  • Tomas Spragg Nilsson, Senior Communications Coordinator at CAN Europe
    • +46 707 56 63 92


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