The actual figure stands at 52.8 percent, as campaigners accused the E.U. of watering down targets from the proposed 60 percent.
Ahead of the U.S. global climate summit, the E.U. made a number of commitments to set out a path to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The Union confirmed that it would commit itself to an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The pledge was criticized by campaigners, as it was lower than the initial 60 percent reduction in emissions voted for by the E.U. parliament in October 2020.
Climate groups have also accused the E.U. of altering its data to make its commitments seem stronger than they actually are. Speaking to the Associated Press, Michael Bloss, a European Lawmaker with The Greens, said that "accounting tricks" have been used to reach the figure of 55 percent. Bloss accused the E.U. of "[rushing] through a weak climate law for the sake of a photo-op with President Joe Biden.”
Bloss's comments respond to controversy surrounding the topic of removals and carbon sinks. In September 2020, a leaked document from the E.U. seen by The Guardian proposed that “by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced and removals enhanced, so that net greenhouse gas emissions, that is emissions after deduction of removals are reduced economy-wide and domestically, by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.” Environmental groups have said that including removals in the proposal changes the way emissions are counted. Removals is the term used to describe forests and soils which reduce more carbon than they emit. They have argued that while restoring forests and natural habitats is essential to climate efforts, this must be an additional measure to fighting the climate crisis. By including removals, the 1990 baseline is reduced, therefore making climate targets seem higher than they are.
Following nine hours of negotiations, removals were still included in the European Climate Law. However in a press statement, the E.U. said there must be "recognition of the need to enhance the EU's carbon sink through a more ambitious LULUCF regulation, for which the Commission will make proposals in June 2021;"
The E.U. added that priority must be given to reductions of carbon emissions over removals. The E.U. said that it had introduced a limit of "225 Mt of CO2 equivalent to the contribution of removals to the net target".
This means that the net target is officially set at 55 percent, which corresponds to 52.8 percent total reductions below 1990 levels, with additional carbon sinks of max. 225 Mt. However, as the E.U. has acknowledged and amended its position on carbon sinks, we have marked the claim partly true.