Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050

Reading time: 4 minutes
13 December 2019

The European Council has agreed that the new long-term targets of the EU will see the continent reach climate-neutrality by 2050.

This announcement follows the presentation of the European Green Deal by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week, which included a wealth of propositions on how to achieve the climate-neutrality target. Poland, however, is exempt from the agreement because, at this stage, it cannot commit to implementing the objective. 

Regions in Europe now have a significant opportunity to support the delivery of the targets and, with 43 regional governments and 12 EU Member State endorsers, Europe is the largest constituency of the Under2 Coalition. Together, these regions represent a population of 179 million and GDP of $6.8 trillion which is equivalent to 35% and 36% of the EU population and economy respectively.

Building on the citizens’ dialogues and assemblies across the EU, the European Commission has also proposed the establishment of a European Climate Pact in 2020. The Pact ensures the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, while also empowering regional and local communities to work collaboratively towards the 2050 goal. 

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg – European Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition, commented:

The European Council has set the course by setting the target to reach climate-neutrality all over Europe by 2050, representing an important signal to the whole world. However, it is necessary to enable the implementation in all member states and to adjust the EU's short-term emission targets. The goals must be more clearly oriented towards the Paris Agreement and scientific requirements.

"Within the Under2 Coalition, there is strong regional collaboration to deliver ambitious climate protection and the European Commission can count on the support of the coalition’s European members in its efforts to create a European Climate Pact.

"The European Green Deal is an important step for climate action and the link between climate policy and other important topics such as circular economy, resource efficiency and biodiversity is particularly impressive.”

Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat, added:

“With the launch of the Green Deal for Europe, the new European Commission shows real climate leadership and ambition, at a crucial time when citizens, businesses, regional governments and cities are asking to respond to the climate emergency.

“The timelines for the policy measures are impressive and it will be an unprecedented common effort to shift the way policy is made on agriculture, transport, energy, chemicals, biodiversity, finance and more in a Paris Agreement compliant world.

“We particularly welcome the inclusion of a climate law which will commit the bloc to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 and the 43 European regional governments of the Under2 Coalition are already committed to ambitious long-term decarbonization targets and collaboration with their cities to act faster together.

“With such increased guidance, certainty and support from the EU, they will play their part to achieve a climate-neutral economy by 2050”.

To achieve a world of no more than 1.5°C of global warming all actors must play their part and regional governments in Europe are developing, testing and implementing the climate policies needed for this transformational shift.

European Under2 Coalition regions are demonstrating success in climate policy delivery, with a total of 1,105 reported climate actions in 2019 across 11 sectors including waste, industry and transport. Earlier this year, European members of the coalition convened in Brussels and highlighted the major opportunity to work proactively with the administration to deliver a comprehensive European Green Deal.

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, Baden-Württemberg – Under2 Coalition Co-Chair, continued:

“In order to comply with the objectives of the deal, having the appropriate financial resources for implementation at the subnational level is crucial.

“Of the announced investments amounting to 1 trillion euros, we believe that new funds must also be made available for states and regions as well as cities to allow for increased climate action and ambition across Europe."

Looking forward, Tim Ash Vie, Director of the Under2 Coalition Secretariat highlights:

“As we head into the 2020s, a critical decade for climate action, the importance of raising ambition and accelerating implementation is clear. We welcome this announcement and are committed to supporting our European members to deliver the necessary action.”

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