Brussels — The European Parliament has called for the EU to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, higher than the at least 40% required under EU law or the 45% expected under current measures, in order to be net-zero carbon by 2050.
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The call has no legal weight, but shows how the parliament could react to any formal legal proposals from the European Commission on this.
This particular parliament, however, will break in April for elections in May, so its views may be a moot point, depending on who is re-elected.
The parliament was voting on the European Commission's November strategy paper setting out eight different pathways to meeting the EU's goal to cut its emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
The parliament noted only two of these lead to a net-zero CO2 outcome by 2050, and backed the EC to push for them.
These two pathways include using carbon sinks, developing a circular economy and exploring negative emissions by using biomass associated with carbon capture and storage, as well as more energy efficiency, renewables and digitalization, among other things.
The parliament said that the 2030 cuts would have to be increased in order for the EU to become net-zero CO2 by 2050 "in the most cost-efficient" way.
The EU adopted legislation in 2018 that included a binding 2030 goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels.
It also adopted a binding EU target to source at least 32% of its final energy from renewables and a non-binding target to improve its energy efficiency by 32.5%, both higher than the EC's original proposals.
Taken together, the EC expects this legislation, if fully implemented, to cut the EU's CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030.
This is already higher than the 40% the EU gave as its 2030 commitment under the UN's Paris global climate agreement.
Under that agreement, which aims to limit long-term global warming, countries agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious targets on cutting emissions.
The next such stock take is due in 2023.
CALL FOR COAL POWER PHASE OUT
The parliament, in a separate non-binding vote on Wednesday, called for national governments to phase out coal-fired power by 2030 in order to improve air quality.
It said it welcomed "the commitments made by at least 10 EU member states to phase out coal" and called on the others "to phase out coal as an energy source by 2030 at the latest."
National governments have the right enshrined in the EU treaty to determine their own energy mix.
This means the EC cannot propose EU legislation banning any particular energy source, such as coal or nuclear, completely.
-- Siobhan Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, email@example.com