In 2020, Europe experienced its hottest year on record and the entire world experienced one of the three hottest years, according to the Copernicus Earth observation program. Europe’s temperature was at least 0.4 degrees Celsius above the five warmest years on record. Winter, in particular, was warmer than usual — 3.4 degrees Celsius above the average European winter since the 1980s.
With temperatures going up all over the world, the new law from the European Union to set tougher greenhouse gas emission targets has arrived not a moment too soon.
New Emissions Targets
The new climate law includes a target to reduce emissions by at least 55% by the end of the decade, compared to 1990 levels. The larger goal is to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This is a revision of the previous law, which called for a reduction of at least 40%.
Negotiators representing 27 EU governments and the European Parliament finally agreed on the law after a full night of debates. The final goal of 55% was decided upon even though green campaigners called for a 60% reduction. While the negotiators have arrived at an agreement, the law has not been formally approved by national governments.
Closing the deal was considered crucial since the EU planned to participate in the summit of world leaders on climate change, hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden on April 22 and 23. At the summit, EU and world leaders outlined their plans for protecting the earth.
“This is a landmark moment for the EU,” said Frans Timmermans, the bloc’s climate policy chief. “Today’s agreement also reinforces our global position as a leader in tackling the climate crisis.”
One aspect of the law requires Brussels to create an independent body of scientists which will advise the EU on climate policies, including a greenhouse gas budget that will detail the total emissions the bloc can produce between 2030 and 2050 as it strives toward zero emissions.
The law will likely preempt several regulations to be unveiled in early summer, including tougher CO2 standards for cards, border tariffs for imports of polluting goods, and upgrading the entire EU carbon market.
Currently, only a few counties, including Britain and New Zealand, have created laws surrounding the goal of zero emissions, but the EU will be the largest group of countries to do so. If the updated law is adopted globally, reaching zero emissions by 2050 would prevent the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.