The European Climate Council is showing that it is subservient to the current EU powerhouse

the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (hereinafter referred to as the Climate Council) recently (June 15, 2023) issued a “heavy” advice to the European Commission on the climate target in 2040. In the European climate law introduced in 2021, emissions targets are set for 2030 and 2050, but Everything is still open to 2040. As is known, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and by 100% by 2050. If all this works, Europe can call itself the first climate-neutral continent On Earth, the big dream of European Commission President von der Leyen and its Climate Commissioner Timmermans.

The Climate Council was created as an integral part of the European Climate Code. It is composed of fifteen “outstanding and distinguished climatologists” who have gained professional experience in an “interdisciplinary environment and in an international context”. In addition to the “difference in scientific and sectoral expertise,” the composition of the council also reflects “gender and geographical balance.” With the Climate Council, the EU stresses the important role of science in European climate policy. The word “flag” appears no less than 40 times in the 17-page text of the European Climate Code.

What is the problem with the 2040 goal?

According to European climate law, the final emission target in 2040 should be clarified in 2024. If possible, the Commission will take a decision on this as soon as possible so that it can be finalized before the next European elections in May 2024. With its admiration and respect for (climate) science, The committee will adopt the Climate Council proposals virtually unchanged and incorporate them into new legislation. You can’t compromise with science.

As someone who is uninitiated in European climate policy, you’re wondering what’s wrong with this 2040 target. The target in 2030 is consistent (55%) as is the ultimate target in 2050 (100%). Then you can easily sit in the middle in 2040, right? That’s a 77.5% reduction in emissions in 2040. And you don’t need a complex and unreadable 100-page climate council and science report for this. But it is not that simple.

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The problem is that in addition to emissions targets of 55% and 100%, current European climate law also includes a global warming target: the Earth must be no hotter than 1.5°C warmer than at the start of the industrial period.

To this end, the EU respects the agreements made in the Paris Agreement in climate law. It states that future global warming should be limited to a minimum warming period of 1.5°C and an upper limit of well below 2°C. In the climate law, the European Union chose the lower limit of 1.5 degrees, which is the most ambitious temperature target you can think of, but with the climate emergency declared by the European Parliament in 2019, there is no other choice. All hands on deck.

The EU’s emission targets must therefore be chosen in such a way as to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. With its relatively small share of global emissions (about 8%), the EU has little impact on global warming, but it assumes that other countries in the world will also comply with the emissions targets set by the EU. This is not very realistic, but it is not a consideration for the EU.

Tightening European climate policy

With current emissions targets of 55% in 2030 and 100% in 2050, and targets for 2040 in between, global warming is expected to be just above the 1.5° standard and this is not allowed. So the reduction in emissions must be increased in 2040. In its advice, the Climate Council proposes a reduction in 2040 of between 90 and 95%. And this means a significant tightening of European climate policy: the EU will have to advance the moment of climate neutrality by about 10 years.

To prove 90 and 95%, the Climate Council has taken a broad approach and has made extensive use of so-called Integrated Assessment Models (IAM). These are complex and comprehensive computer models that take into account not only the physics of global warming, but also future social and economic developments. This means that anything that could have any effect on global warming is included in those models. For example, the growth of the world’s population and the change in the eating patterns of those populations, to name a few.

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emissions scenarios

With the help of these IAMs, the Climate Council has produced about 1,000 different emissions scenarios for the period 2020 to 2050. Of these 1,000 scenarios, 36 result in a temperature rise of about 1.5 degrees. In these remaining 36 scenarios, the emissions reduction in 2040 is between 90 and 95%.

Emissions in 2040 can also be calculated in a simpler and more direct way using the carbon budget method. By looking at the emissions profile between 2020 and 2050, you can calculate the exact total carbon emissions for that period. Global emissions in 2020 will be 40 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, after which global emissions will follow the European scale.

Each level of warming is linked to the global carbon budget, which is the maximum amount of carbon that can be emitted to stay within the chosen level of warming. The carbon budget from 01-01-2020 for a 1.5 degree warming is 500 GtCO2 and for a 2-degree warming it is 1350 GtCO2. See Table 5.8 in the most recent IPCC Report (AR6).

The result of the carbon budget method can be seen in the chart below. The vertical axis shows emissions as a percentage of emissions in 1990 and the horizontal axis shows the time from 2020 to 2050. The starting point in 2020 is 66%, according to the officially reported emissions reduction in 2020 of 34%.

The gray dotted line indicates the emission trajectory in an unchanged policy without a specifically defined 2040 target. In 2040, the decline would then be 77.5%, midpoint of targets in 2030 and 2040. The dark orange line is the emission path to be followed between 2030 and 2050 to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

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If the policy remained the same (dashed gray line), the warming would be 1.56 degrees, 0.06 degrees above the norm (4%). To reach 1.5 degrees (the bold orange line), emissions would have to be reduced to 5% in 2040, a 95% reduction, which is the upper limit for the period reached by the Climate Council.

What about climate council advice? As an academic exercise, there’s not much to criticize, though the Climate Council made it unnecessarily too complicated. But what really hurts the shoe is that the Climate Council, which is fully consistent with European climate law, assumes that global warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees. This is a fundamental misconception based on an outdated understanding. The 15 “Eminent and Distinguished Climate Scientists” on the Climate Council should know better.

1.5 degrees of warming is an expensive illusion

According to the Global Temperature Series, the current warming is already about 1.2 degrees. If the trend observed in recent decades continues, global warming will exceed the 1.5° mark somewhere between 2030 and 2035. This trend is highly unlikely to reverse before then. Although China and India have announced their intention to reduce emissions to zero in the long term (China in 2060, India in 2070), this will not have an effect until after the middle of this century. A score of 1.5 is a costly illusion generated by pure political wishful thinking.

By embracing the phantom 1.5 degrees, the Climate Council acted as a servant to the current EU powerhouse. More can be expected from an independent scientific advisory body.

Jack Hagwart He writes for Wynia Week about energy policy

Winya week It keeps the antics of the Dutch Climate and energy policy. Would you like to make this much needed report possible as a donor? love! Thank you!

Megan Vasquez

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