(Montel) The EU should be “carbon neutral” by the middle of this century, the European Commission said ahead of presenting its long-term strategy against climate change on Wednesday.
This marks an increase from a former target from 2011, when the EU agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% on 1990 levels by 2050.
The new strategy – to be unveiled later – came just days before annual UN climate talks began in Katowice, Poland.
It is seen as a first step towards developing a formal long-term strategy to meet the bloc’s commitments under the Paris climate accord.
Lowering carbon emissions to zero by 2050 was crucial to limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said recently.
Europe’s new target would require additional investments in energy infrastructure of EUR 175-290bn, according to a leaked version of the report.
But climate neutrality would also make Europe far less dependent on energy imports, said Canete.
“A climate neutral EU will increase Europe’s GDP by 2% by 2050. Today, Europe pays EUR 266bn a year in energy imports. In a climate neutral EU, energy imports will fall by over 70%. The money we save (EUR 2-3 trillion up to 2050) could be invested in modernising our economy instead,” he added.