business leaders support the EU project targets on carbon emissions of 55% until 2030

More than 150 business leaders and investors have urged EU countries to set higher climate goals for 2030, backing a draft European Commission plan to aim for a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade.

A coalition of 157 multinational companies, 21 business associations and investor groups expressed their support for increased climate ambition in an open letter, published on Tuesday (15 September).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will argue on Wednesday (16 September) in favour of a 55% emissions cut by 2030 when she makes her first annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament after taking over the reins of the EU executive in December.

Detailed proposals on how to achieve a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be unveiled on Thursday, according to a leaked version of the plans. The EU’s current target is a 40% cut compared to 1990 levels.

The move, if confirmed, is strongly supported by the coalition of business groups.

“What we urgently need to see next is an ambitious implementation of the recovery package focussed on achieving a green and digital transition, with the European Green Deal at its core and an elevated short-term emissions reduction target in its sights,” the business leaders said in their open letter.

The letter was signed by top executives from multinational companies, including Microsoft, IKEA, Deutsche Bank, Unilever, H&M, Google, EDF, Signify and Apple. It will be officially unveiled at a virtual event to mark the opening of New York Climate Week on 21 September.

“From a business and investor perspective, clarity on the net-zero transition pathway and timetables for each sector, as well as policy that enables substantial investments in carbon neutral solutions is essential,” says the letter, which was led by the European Corporate Leaders Group at the University of Cambridge in England.

“This, in turn, would provide us with the confidence needed to invest decisively at the necessary pace and scale to reduce emissions, create decent green jobs, drive innovation, and accelerate the rebuilding of a resilient zero-carbon economy,” the missive states.

The COP25 climate summit in Madrid needs to lay the groundwork for 2020 when countries and blocs will be measured against their commitment to the Paris Agreement. At EU level, this should translate into an ambitious European Green Deal, writes Eliot Whittington.

Investors worth €33 trillion join call for 55% target

Pascal Canfin, a French centrist lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee, gave his full support to the business leaders’ initiative. In April, Canfin launched a “green recovery alliance” bringing together business groups, trade unions, NGOs and think-tanks around a common agenda to promote a green recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“I strongly support this initiative,” he said in a statement. “It is essential that businesses back the need to raise our ambition to make sure that we deliver during the next decades for Europe to become the first climate neutral continent.”

Those calls were echoed by a coalition of investment banks, pension funds and asset managers who also urged the EU on Tuesday to adopt higher climate goals.

A 55% reduction in emissions by 2030 “is the minimum level of ambition required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” said the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), whose 250 members have more than €33 trillion in assets under management.

Ensuring clarity on the net-zero transition pathways for Europe’s main economic sectors will also be key to ensuring investor capital flows where it is needed, and in a timely manner, the IIGCC stressed.

“The EU has shown it understands climate action and economic growth go hand in hand, and has the full backing of investors in creating a more resilient economic future across member states,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the IIGCC.

“Nonetheless, it’s imperative this vision is made real in the form of ambitious climate targets,” she added in a statement.

“The policy certainty this provides is critical to unlocking the increased private sector investment required to support clean growth and achieve a net-zero future, as the foundation of a truly sustainable long-term COVID-19 economic recovery across Europe.”

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