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EU Commission gets unprecedented scientific advice for its 2040 climate target

The photo shows the European Environment Agency building hosting the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change.
The European Environment Agency building in Copenhagen, Denmark, hosting the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change. Photo by European Environment Agency on its website. 
  • The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) advises the European Commission to propose 90-95% GHG emissions reduction by 2040 through a ‘fair and feasible’ pathway that focusses on reducing energy demand. 
  • The ESABCC’s report is an important step to root EU decision-making in science and expert advice and hold policymakers accountable. This will be the first stress test for the EU Commission to integrate the advice into upcoming decisions for EU climate policy.
  • The analysis suggests that the EU has already exceeded its fair share of the global emissions budget, which the Board proposes to compensate with additional mitigation efforts at home and abroad.


Today, the ESABCC released the second part of its advice for the EU’s 2040 climate target: 90-95% greenhouse gas emission reduction. It also estimated the EU’s greenhouse gas budget for the 2030-2050 period: 11-14 Gt CO2e. It is the first stress test to measure how science-based advice impacts EU climate policy decisions.

The ESABCC analysed over a thousand EU emission pathways to climate neutrality by 2050 and their implications regarding side effects, co-benefits, resilience, and feasibility. The analysis found that a fair and feasible pathway that prioritises lower energy and natural resource use would be the most effective in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring energy security, and minimising environmental risks. Specific recommendations by 2040 include:

  • Cutting energy consumption by 20-40%.
  • Slashing fossil fuel imports, phasing out coal (by 2030) and unabated gas in electricity generation.
  • Almost fully decarbonising the EU’s power sector by achieving a 70-90% share of renewables.

The Board suggests that the EU has already exceeded its fair share of the global emissions budget and proposes the EU compensate for this with additional efforts beyond the current -55% target for 2030, setting an intermediate target for 2035, and increasing mitigation efforts abroad through support, cooperation and partnerships outside of the EU.

The European Climate Law mandates the Commission to put forward its proposal for an EU 2040 climate target in the first half of 2024, while considering this scientific advice. The EU’s climate transition will only remain scientifically credible if the Commission chooses to follow the advice of the Scientific Advisory Board in its 2040 climate target proposal. 


Elisa Giannelli, Programme Lead, EU Politics and Climate Governance, said: 

“Managing the changes of the transition in the required timescales – and in ways that improve the lives of citizens – will be a massive challenge. This non-political advice plays a crucial role in fostering political leadership and enabling credible policy decisions. Now it’s up to the Commission to show accountability and get closer to leaving a solid green legacy behind”.

Till Eichler, Researcher, EU Politics and Climate Governance, said: 

“Beyond the headline target, the ESABCC’s advice rightfully highlights the value of a 2035 interim climate target and makes a strong case for reducing energy demand to gain a broad range of environmental and social co-benefits.”

Available for comment

Elisa Giannelli (EN, IT, FR), Programme Lead, EU Politics and Governance

m: +32 (0) 494 584 829  

Pepe Escrig (EN, ES, FR), Researcher, EU Politics & Climate Governance

m: +32 (0) 497 499 243  

Till Eichler (EN, DE, FR), Researcher, EU Politics & Climate Governance

m: +32 (0) 467 808 355  

Notes to Editors

  1. E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G
  2. For further enquiries email or phone +44 (0)7783 787 863


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