The coal power has to go first - ideally as early as 2030, think the Greens in the European Parliament
Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa
In order for the goals of the Green Deal to be achieved, the European Union must save millions of tons of CO2 over the next ten years.
The international community is to become climate neutral by 2050 - a mammoth project that will have an impact on our entire lives, from energy generation to the purchase of a car.
There is an intermediate goal on the way there: In December 2020, the 27 governments of the EU countries agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030.
But this is not enough not only for climate activists and scientists, the EU Parliament shares the concerns and wants to achieve 60 percent savings in this first intermediate stage.
It is true that the Member States and the Commission have ignored this wish of parliamentarians for the time being.
But so far the EU climate law has not been passed and - at least in theory - everything is still open.
The difference between the proposal by the Council or the Commission and Parliament's higher climate target is almost 300 million tonnes of CO2 - roughly the same as Spain's CO2 emissions.
This third of a billion is added on-the-top to the roughly one billion tons of permanent CO2 savings that must be achieved anyway through the 55 percent target agreed by the member states.
By way of comparison: the Union has saved around 1.5 billion tons of CO2 since 1990 - albeit over a 30-year period.
Now it has to do almost the same amount in just ten years.
Study: 60 percent are feasible, but unrealistic
A study available to SPIEGEL confirms that the stricter goal is not only desirable but also possible.
The economic consultants of the British agency Cambridge Econometrics calculated the economic burden caused by the higher CO2 savings.
The result: some industries would need more support.
But the bottom line is that the EU will benefit from the increase to 60 percent.
According to the authors of the study, additional costs of three percent or twelve billion euros per year would arise for the EU compared to the 55 percent target.
But this would also create a million new jobs in the renewables industry or e-mobility - and the economy would even grow by 1.8 percent more.
According to the authors of the study, a CO2 tax and higher revenues from European emissions trading will finance the turnaround.
The EU's CO2 price is currently around 40 euros, but it is still subject to strong fluctuations - even downwards.
Because more and more wind, sun and biogas mean that more and more fossil energy imports such as coal and gas are being eliminated, around 20 billion euros could be saved annually by 2030 - according to the quite optimistic calculation of the study.
Investments are balanced
The fastest successes in climate protection should be achieved in the energy supply.
For this to happen, all coal-fired power plants in the Union would have to be switched off in the next ten years - the authors only allow exceptions for Poland, which is extremely dependent on coal power.
"The study shows that higher investments at the beginning are offset by rapid additional income due to the CO2 price in emissions trading and at the national level," says Michael Bloss, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens and commissioner of the study.
Other energy experts are more cautious.
Andreas Graf from the Berlin think tank Agora Energiewende is dampening expectations: "As encouraging as the results are, it is also likely that these even higher goals will be out of reach in the next few years, if they are not already the case now."
The analysis assumes immediate, flawless and consistent implementation from 2021 - but not much of that has yet to be seen.
“At the macro level, energy, industry and mobility systems are more like ocean liners than speedboats,” says Graf.
Nevertheless, he hopes that the EU has permanently changed its course.
Climate commissioner ignores 60 percent demand
MEPs Bloss are annoyed by the reluctance of the Commission and Member States to approach the EU climate target: »My patience is running out.
The EU Commission and the Council behave undemocratically if they ignore Parliament's decision on the climate target. "
Together with other Green MPs, he has now written a letter to EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans, which SPIEGEL has received.
In it, parliamentarians complain that their 60 percent decision has so far been completely ignored.
"So far, we have been waiting in vain for constructive proposals from the EU Commission or the Council in the negotiations on the climate target," said Bloss.
The Commission, Member States and Parliament are currently working out the final details of the climate law in a so-called trialogue - this also includes increasing the climate target.
Negotiations could drag on until May.
In the corridors of Brussels it is said that the EU Commissioner completely ignores the wishes of Parliament.
How little the Commission gives to Parliament's decision is also shown by the 55 percent target that has already been reported to the UN.
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