EU Aims To Be Climate Neutral By 2050
By Sofy Robertson
The European Union has disclosed its aim to become the first major economy to go ‘climate neutral’ by 2050.
Under the plan, emissions of greenhouse gases after that date would have to be offset by planting trees or by burying the gases underground.
Following the IPCC report, scientists have warned that net-zero emissions by 2050 are needed in order to gain a fighting chance of keeping a rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5C this century.
The EU says their plan will also cut premature air pollution deaths by 40%.
Climate neutral; what does it mean?
Being climate neutral means a country or locality’s emissions are balanced through methods of removing gases from the atmosphere. The warming gases that are created by cars and power plants should be counteracted by the greenhouse gases removed from the air by planting new forests or through carbon capture technologies.
In order to achieve this, large cuts in emissions would need to be made. Since 1990, the EU has cut its emissions by 20% while the economies of its member states have continued to grow.
How will the EU achieve climate neutrality?
The EU says this can be done with existing ‘green’ technologies, such as solar power and wind energy. This would need to be increased drastically to provide 80% of electricity. Energy efficiency measures such as home insulation would also need to be boosted to reduce energy consumption by half by the middle of the century.
The EU believes that these measures will help to achieve the goals set out by the Paris agreement. They are also optimistic that their plans will reduce energy imports by 70% by 2050, saving up to three trillion euros a year.
Why is the EU taking action now?
The IPCC report has acted as a wake-up call for many countries with further reports underlining just how far the gap has grown between what countries promised to do under the Paris agreement and what has actually been put in place.
Global climate talks will begin in Poland in the next few days and although the EU’s move is a strategy and not yet a firm commitment, the news will undoubtedly be welcome. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Climate Commissioner, said:
“If we do not lead, no one else will.”