Letter to Energy and Environment Ministers on strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy

Climate action

February 2019


Clean Planet for all: Strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy


Dear Energy and Environment Ministers,

On 4 March and 5 March respectively you will meet in Brussels to discuss the European Commission’s proposed long term strategy vision for a climate neutral economy – A Clean Planet for all.


Overall, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe strongly prefers the Commission’s proposal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 above the scenarios that would postpone reaching net zero to well after 2050. As the Strategy underlines, the transition towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy is feasible, even for currently highly emissions intensive sectors. The Strategy also indicates that the transition will provide numerous economic and social co-benefits, such as better health for citizens, improved biodiversity protection and a higher economic growth and job creation potential.

However, the Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 1.5°C has shown that inadequate climate action will have cataclysmic effects on current and future generations and could cause irreversible damages to the global ecosystem. EU citizens are already suffering from climate change today. According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), climate-related extreme weather has caused average annual losses amounting to EUR 12.8 billion between 2010 and 2016. Should the EU fail to take adequate action in time, annual damages could further increase to at least EUR 190 billion by 2080, equivalent to a net welfare loss of 1.8% of current EU GDP. The EU needs to ensure that it is determined to avoid an overshoot of the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement and that it minimizes its reliance on unproven carbon removal technologies. Based on recent science and the equity principles that underpin the Paris Agreement, we therefore call on the EU to consider reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 at the latest.

Equally, it is clear that in order to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions before mid-century in a cost-effective manner, the European Union needs to reduce its domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65% by 2030, as compared to 1990 levels. The IPCC Report has shown that failure to sufficiently increase medium term climate ambition would mean that the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement will be unattainable. This year’s UN Secretary General Climate Summit in September is the ideal opportunity for the EU to commit to higher climate action ahead of the UNFCCC deadlines, thereby sending a strong signal to other major economies and partners around the world.

Therefore, when discussing the implications of the Commission’s strategic vision, we urge you to:

  • Support reaching EU-wide net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 at the latest in order to reflect appropriate efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C in accordance with the Paris Agreement,
  • Call on European leaders to announce at the UN Secretary General Climate Summit the EU’s determination to achieve climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest and to substantially increase the current European NDC to at least 65% domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as compared to 1990 levels.

The current ministerial exchanges which will feed into the discussions among Heads of State and Government at the European Councils in March and May (Sibiu) on the Future of the EU need to reflect the unprecedented mobilisation of citizens in several EU Member States. The thousands of youngsters and other people that have joined and will joined the massive demonstrations consider climate action as a prominent component for the future of Europe, expect the EU to increase action against climate change, and stress the urgency for the EU to increase its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

We hope that you will take these points into considerations during your discussions at the EU Council and we remain at your disposal to further discuss ways to advance European and climate action.


Yours Sincerely,

Wendel Trio

Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe