EU preparing 2040 emissions cut target to combat climate change

BRUSSELS - The European Union is moving ahead with plans to set an emissions-cutting target for 2040, a milestone to steer the world's third-biggest economy towards zero net greenhouse gas emissions a decade later.

The European Commission, which drafts EU policies, is seeking views from the public, industries and civil society on the 2040 target, according to documents published on Friday.

Meeting Europe's climate goals will require significant changes in how goods are produced and consumed. In designing the goal, the Commission said it would consider the transformation needed in sectors like energy, transport, industry and farming - including the impact on jobs and people's health.

It will also consider the costs of failing to cut emissions fast enough to avoid disastrous severe climate change, which would unleash far more destructive extreme weather than the floods, wildfires, droughts and heatwaves already ravaging Europe and the world.

The EU has already committed to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The 2040 climate target would map a path from that goal towards the EU's ultimate aim of net zero emissions by 2050.

"Without a 2040 climate target, the EU would be at risk of missing its domestic climate objective for 2050 and possibly undermine its capacity to spur climate action internationally," the Commission said.

The 2040 goal would be legally binding, like the EU's other climate targets.

The EU's existing climate policies are among the most ambitious of any major emitter. They include a carbon market forcing factories and power plants to pay when they emit carbon dioxide (CO2), and vehicle emission limits for carmakers.

Reaching net zero emissions by 2050 will require deeper emissions cuts from all sectors, including methane-emitting livestock farming and aviation. The EU will also phase in a world-first CO2 levy on imports of polluting goods this decade.

The Commission must propose the 2040 goal six months after this year's U.N. climate summit, which starts in November, according to the law containing the EU climate targets.

Subsequent negotiations to finalise the target can take more than a year, but some EU officials fear EU Parliament elections in 2024 could lengthen that timeline.




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