The next step in Europe’s climate action

Setting targets for 2030

Published: 11/06/2013

This paper, commissioned by Greenpeace and prepared by Ecofys, explains how setting 2030 targets will reinvigorate the ETS and will put EU emissions on track to limit global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius (2°C). In order to keep this goal within reach, increasing global emissions need to reach their peak this decade and start declining at a significant pace. But at present, emissions are projected to increase beyond those levels. This paper describes key findings for EU policymakers engaged in preparing EU energy and climate measures for 2030 and for the longer term.

  • The European Commission estimates that by 2020, the companies participating in the ETS will have accumulated a surplus of 1.5 to 2.3 billion allowances, which may be banked and used beyond 2020. This is about the same size as the annual emissions budget of ETS companies (just below 2 billion tonnes).
  • Applying equity principles to the global distribution of efforts in reaching the 2°C goal, an indicative ‘fair’ EU contribution would be a reduction of EU greenhouse gas emissions by around 49% (median of a full range from 39 to 79%) by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
  • The 2030 targets can be set in a way to also accommodate the surplus expected until 2020. If the entire surplus of allowances from the ETS were to be used after 2020, the 2030 target has to become around 7 percentage points more stringent to compensate for that. Alternatively, the trajectory of the target from 2021 to 2030 could be set to compensate for the surplus. In addition, a more ambitious trajectory towards 2030 would cast its shadow on the mitigation in the period 2013-2020. It would strengthen the ETS, in conjunction with any other ETS recalibration options such as shifting the auctioning (‘backloading’) or cancelling allowances before 2020.