Weak EU decarbonisation target risks locking in dangerous climate change

22 Jan. 2014  ‘Modest’ EU climate targets criticised  Nature

Report by Quirin Schiermeier on the incompatibility of the EU Commission’s new 2030 decarbonisation target of 40% with the same Commission’s express commitment to make its fair contribution to avoiding the 2°C characterisation of dangerous climate change.

As the report concludes:

From a scientific viewpoint, the EU’s 2030 target would need to be nearer to 80% than to 40%, agrees Kevin Anderson, an energy and climate scientist at the University of Manchester, UK, and deputy director of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre.

Anderson has previously criticized the commission for misrepresenting probabilities — with “dramatic consequences for the necessary scale of mitigation” — of keeping atmospheric warming below 2 °C.

“Whilst political decisions are rightly the responsibility of politicians, it surely is incumbent on us as scientists to press hard for scientific consistency,” he says. “Scientific uncertainties notwithstanding, I am surprised that so few scientists have been prepared to voice their concerns about the sheer scale of the shortfall.”

Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2014.14573