Council Adopts European Climate Law


Originally published by Council of the European Union.

The Council today adopted its position at first reading on the European climate law, ending the adoption procedure and setting into legislation the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050. This follows a political agreement reached with the European Parliament on 21 April and the Parliament’s adoption of its position at first reading on 24 June.

“I warmly welcome this final step of the adoption of the EU’s very first climate law which enshrines into legislation the 2050 climate neutrality objective. An agreement on the European climate law has been a priority for the Portuguese Presidency and I am glad that we have successfully brought it over the finishing line.” —João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Minister of Environment and Climate Action

In addition to the goal of climate neutrality and an aspirational goal for the Union to strive to achieve negative emissions after 2050, the European climate law sets a binding Union climate target of a reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions (emissions after deduction of removals) by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. In order to ensure that sufficient efforts to reduce and prevent emissions are deployed until 2030, the climate law introduces a limit of 225 Mt of CO2 equivalent to the contribution of removals to that target. The Union will also aim to achieve a higher volume of carbon net sink by 2030.

The Commission will also propose an intermediate climate target for 2040, if appropriate, at the latest within six months after the first global stocktake carried out under the Paris Agreement. At the same time, it will publish a projected indicative Union’s greenhouse gas budget for the period 2030-2050, together with its underlying methodology. The budget is defined as the indicative total volume of net greenhouse gas emissions (expressed as CO2 equivalent and providing separate information on emissions and removals) that are expected to be emitted in that period without putting at risk the Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The European climate law establishes a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change. The board will provide independent scientific advice and produce reports on EU measures, climate targets and indicative greenhouse gas budgets and their coherence with the European climate law and the EU’s international commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The Commission will engage with sectors of the economy that choose to prepare indicative voluntary roadmaps towards achieving the Union’s climate neutrality objective by 2050. As well as  monitoring the development of such roadmaps, the Commission will facilitate dialogue at EU-level and sharing of best practices among relevant stakeholders.

Background and next steps

The European Council, in its conclusions of 12 December 2019, agreed on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, while also recognising that it is necessary to put in place an enabling framework that benefits all member states and encompasses adequate instruments, incentives, support and investments to ensure a cost-efficient, just, as well as socially balanced and fair transition, taking into account different national circumstances in terms of starting points.

On 4 March 2020, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a European climate law, as an important part of the European Green Deal. On 17 September 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal amending its initial proposal to include a revised EU emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030. The Commission also published a communication on the 2030 climate target plan, accompanied by a comprehensive impact assessment.

On 10-11 December 2020, the European Council in its conclusions, endorsed a binding EU target of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

The Council adopted a general approach on the proposal for a European climate law on 17 December 2020, after which the Council and the Parliament launched a series of trilogue meetings with the aim of securing an agreement on the final text.

The Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the proposal on 21 April 2021.

Now that the European climate law has been adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council, it will be signed and published in the Official Journal, before entering into force.


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