The document avoids details such as targets, budget numbers or specific countries. While it describes the climate crisis as an existential threat and calls for an “in-depth transformation of the EU’s own economy and society to achieve climate neutrality”, some campaigners say it lacks ambition. The document states that EU policies should be consistent with the Paris agreement, but spells out little detail about what that means.
Last year, the European commission called for the EU to be “climate neutral” by 2050 in order to keep global heating below the UN’s 1.5C target (equivalent to a rise of 2.7F). The campaign group WWF said the EU needed to hit net zero emissions 10 years sooner, in 2040. “Given the ecological emergency we are facing, climate action and nature loss must be prioritised in the coming mandate – but such promises are meaningless without fixed timelines for the EU to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030,” said Ester Asin, director of WWF’s European policy office.
Greenpeace criticised the absence of any mention of food production, when livestock farming accounts for between 13%-17% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. The EU farming sector has seen no decline in emissions since 2010 and benefits from £24bn in public subsidies through the common agricultural policy.
“European leaders are feeling the pressure to talk big on climate, but their strategic agenda is more of a collection of buzzwords than an emergency response to humanity’s greatest threat,” Greenpeace’s EU director, Jorgo Riss, said. “This list of contradictory proposals suggests European leaders will prioritise economic growth in much the same way as before, driving social inequalities and fuelling the climate and ecological crisis even further.”