Climate targets are a helpful indicator of political will, and we’re happy that the European Union has made a positive step in the right direction. But the conversation has to shift from climate targets to climate action. Without significant measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions this decade, these 2050 climate targets will become purely academic. As a climate leader, the EU cannot postpone innovation that will lead to emissions reductions globally.
Aggressive action to curb methane emissions is probably the single most impactful climate action available. Methane emissions are 80-times more damaging than CO2 in the short term and have risen more rapidly than anticipated under the Paris Agreement. If this trend continues, it might prove impossible to meet the Agreement’s goals – even with aggressive CO2 reductions. By 2030, strong EU methane standards for both domestic and imported gas could reduce more than five million tons of methane annually, reducing near-term warming as much as replacing about 120 coal-fired power plants with carbon-free generation.
In parallel, it is vital to pave the way for decarbonization in all sectors across the European Union. And for this we need to focus on commercializing the next generation decarbonization technologies. Investment in new infrastructure and climate technologies like carbon capture, removal, and storage, as well as zero-carbon fuels, is vital for cutting emissions from industrial processes, heavy transport, and waste management. None of these emissions sources are going to disappear by 2050. The EU must repeat its success in creating the financial and policy incentives that kick-started the global renewable energy industry; but this time with zero-carbon fuels and carbon capture, transport and storage. Solving the continent’s reliance on fossil fuels is a challenge that extends beyond the energy sector – something that can no longer be swept under the rug.”