EC sets new goal of 90% emissions reduction by 2040

The European Commission has recommended a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 2040 and said non-fossil fuels should be prioritised for aviation and shipping instead of road transport.

The new target of a 90% net reduction on emissions in 1990 followed a detailed impact assessment on pathways to the EU’s 2050 goal of ‘carbon neutrality’. It was welcomed by aviation and environmental groups but also criticised by both.

EC legislative proposals in line with the target will follow European elections in June. The EC noted it will require full implementation of existing EU legislation to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and suggested a 90% reduction “will require both emissions reductions and carbon removal and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies”, although these have yet to be developed at scale.

Leading European aviation groups welcomed the inclusion of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) as a “strategic decarbonisation technology” along with the recommendation, arguing: “Development of a strong, globally competitive EU SAF market will be crucial in delivering on the updated EU 2040 climate ambitions.”

But groups including Airlines for Europe (A4E) and airports association ACI Europe insisted “further action by policymakers is needed”.

They noted the EC “recognised the need to address barriers to SAF deployment at scale, giving the aviation sector priority access to feedstocks and putting incentives in place to close the price gap between SAF and conventional kerosene”.

However, the associations argued: “The race to become a SAF leader has started and further policy incentives to scale up production and uptake are required. These include increased financial support for development of SAF.”

Brussels-based environmental group Transport & Environment (T&E) described the new EU target as “historic”, suggesting “industry players can be assured of a growing market and predictable demand” for “green tech” as a result.

T&E also welcomed the EC’s insistence that biofuels and other non-fossil fuels “should be prioritised” for aviation and shipping, noting shipping has been “too often ignore in climate legislation”.

But it dismissed aviation emissions reduction targets as “inadequate”, arguing the EC “has failed to take into account aviation’s biggest climate impact – extra EU emissions [from flights beyond the EU] and non-CO2 warming effects”.

T&E argued “more than 60% of the EU’s aviation climate impact has been overlooked”.

More: Find exclusive analysis of climate and sustainability in the Travel Weekly Insight Report 2024

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