The EU has a Climate Law but still fails to deliver the much needed short term climate ambition

Climate action

In the Climate Law trilogues, EU lawmakers rushed an agreement on the Law and failed to deliver on what could have been an ambitious climate governance framework, including a strong 2030 emissions reductions target, and expanding the climate neutrality objective to all Member States individually.

One day after the publication of the UN State of the Climate report bringing a dire message on the need for increased action, EU lawmakers failed to use the opportunity of the Climate Law negotiations to increase the EU’s climate target beyond the already agreed at least 55%. Last minute changes to the way carbon removals will be integrated in the overall target do not really change this.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “The fact of the matter is that the outcome of the Climate Law negotiations do not bring us any additional emission reductions on top of what the EU had already agreed. The “at least 55% emission reduction target for 2030” is not in line with the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. European decision makers missed a historic opportunity to adequately address the climate crisis. This Climate Law is nothing more than a new package for what already exists, rushed by EU lawmakers to bring something to the Leaders’s Summit organised by the US. This is definitely not the kind of Climate Law that will help the EU to lead the global efforts to tackle climate change.”

World Meteorological Organisation’s most recent report, the “State of Global Climate 2020” has underlined that 2020 was already 1.2°C warmer than pre-industrial times and unprecedented action is needed in the next decade if the world leaders are serious about keeping their promises under the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Unfortunately, the EU Climate Law is far from including an ambitious 2030 climate target that would be aspirational to other big economies. Its final version includes some wording on the additional EU action but does not address the issue of international shipping and aviation. In this way, the Climate Law leaves all decisive action for further increasing the EU’s climate ambition to the upcoming climate and energy legislation under the “Fit for 55” package.

On a more positive note, the Climate Law includes the establishment of an expert advisory body that would advise EU decision makers on emissions budgets, targets and trajectories, and the consistency of EU policies. The way the wording currently stands in the text is that the Body is to deliver “scientific advice on already existing European measures”. However, this risks limiting its role in providing forward looking policy recommendations across sectors and on the consistency of policies.

Harriet Mackaill-Hill, Governance Policy Officer at the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “An independent expert body that will advise EU decision makers on emissions budgets, targets and trajectories, and the consistency of EU policies in meeting these targets is of crucial importance for the accountability of law makers and guiding the public debate. To fill the gaps in the EU climate framework, the expert advisory body needs to be able to deliver cross cutting policy advice and not be limited to scientific advice only.”

Other key elements of the Climate Law such as extending climate neutrality to all Member States or access to justice for citizens ended up not seeing the light of day in the final text due to massive push back from the Council.


For more information please contact: Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Project Manager,


Press release

Leading Environment and Climate Organisations Score European Parliament’s 2019-2024 Performance ​

New in-depth data research from five leading climate and environment organisations reveals that only a minority of MEPs during the 2019 – 2024 mandate acted to protect Europe’s climate, nature and air quality. The majority of MEPs acted instead as either procrastinators or prehistoric thinkers, delaying real action with patchy and inconsistent voting records, or worse, completely failing to rise to the challenge of the crises Europe is facing.

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