Over achievement or under ambition?

6 June 2014

The EU has made no efforts to hide their personal satisfaction at projecting it will overachieve its 20% target for 2020. According to the EU’s KP "ambition" submission, they’re on a pathway to a reduction of 22.8% on average during the second commitment period. Not forgetting that the latest numbers released just a couple of days ago confirmed that the EU has already reached a level of 19.2% below 1990 levels in 2012.

This looks great at first glance, but there’s more to it. In reality the EU isn’t offering any hard commitments to achieve additional reductions. A 30%  reduction target has been, until recently, a lively political discussion in Europe even though NGOs are calling for a 40% reduction. The overachievement is not so much ‘over’ achievement as it is ‘under’ ambition.

EU cuts could be greater than projected without much more effort. There are additional national measures, as well as the  Energy Efficiency Directive which isn’t yet accounted for, which together could shave off another 3% or more by 2020. In talking about additional cuts, the EU's KP submission also tactfully notes the 1.6Gt of eligible ETS offsets without suggesting what to do about them. There are almost three-quarters of a GT in non-ETS offsets also allowed under EU rules. The answer is obvious: cancel the excess. Otherwise in reality EU emissions can either grow to 2020, or the 2030 target will be poisoned by banked emissions.

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