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EC calls for net 90% CO2 cut by 2040

(Montel) The European Commission has called for a 90% net reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2040 to keep the bloc on track to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

Carbon pricing, a decarbonised power system, phasing out coal-fired power and early use of carbon capture technologies are all key elements needed to achieve such a target, said the EC on Tuesday in a policy paper.

It plans to set up a “dedicated taskforce” to promote carbon markets around the world and develop a global approach to carbon pricing. It will increase its efforts to “replicate the success of the EU Emissions Trading System” to encourage other countries to introduce or improve their own carbon pricing mechanisms.

Revenues from carbon pricing “should provide an important source of funds for climate action,” said the EC.

A 90% net reduction means a mixture of absolute reductions in carbon dioxide emitted plus removing emissions through technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The EU would need to use “all zero and low carbon solutions to decarbonise the energy system by 2040,” said the EC.

These included renewables, nuclear, bioenergy, energy efficiency, storage, carbon capture use and storage (CCU and CCS), carbon removals, geothermal, hydropower and “all other current and future net-zero technologies.”

It would also have to achieve its binding target to cut EU emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030.

The EC estimated that average annual investment in the energy system, excluding transport, would need to increase to about EUR 660bn/year from 2031 to 2050, around 3.2% of GDP, to achieve a 90% net reduction.

“Existing capital assets (for example, fossil-based power plants, heating and cooling system or industrial processes) will be replaced with renewable, low-carbon or electricity-based assets,” it said. These new assets were more capital intensive than fossil-based assets.

Next steps
The next college of EU commissioners, who will be appointed after the European Parliament elections in June, will be responsible for making a formal legal proposal for a 2040 carbon reduction target.

This will then have to be debated and agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council, representing national governments, before it can become law.