As one of the elements of the European Green Deal, the European climate law has the objective of setting the goal of a climate-neutral EU by 2050 into legislation. EU environment ministers reached agreement on a general approach on the proposal for a European climate law, including a new EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990, following the guidance of the European Council given on 10-11 December 2020.
In December 2020, EU leaders agreed that 30% of the total expenditure from the EU's budget for 2021-2027 and Next-Generation EU would target climate-related projects. Expenses under both budgets will comply with the EU’s objective of climate neutrality by 2050, the EU’s 2030 climate targets and the Paris Agreement.
The current changes in the planet's climate are transforming the world. The last two decades included 18 of the warmest years on record, and extreme weather events, such as forest fires, heatwaves and floods, are becoming more frequent both in Europe and elsewhere.
Scientists warn that without urgent action, global warming is likely to exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2060, and could even be as much as 5°C by the end of the century.
Such a rise in the global temperature will have a devastating impact on nature, bringing about irreversible changes to many ecosystems and a consequent loss of biodiversity. Higher temperatures and intensified weather events will also result in huge costs for the EU's economy and hamper countries' ability to produce food.
The EU is one of the signatories to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. EU countries endorsed the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
The European Council adopted conclusions on steps to be taken towards creating a hydrogen market for Europe, to help the EU meet its commitment to reach carbon neutrality in 2050. The conclusions give political guidance to the implementation of the EU Hydrogen Strategy presented by the European Commission on 8 July 2020.
In its conclusions, the Council recognises the important role that hydrogen, especially from renewable sources, plays in reaching the EU's decarbonisation objectives, economic recovery in the context of COVID-19 and the EU's competitiveness on the global scene.
Hydrogen roadmap for the EU
The priority for the EU is to develop renewable hydrogen, produced using mainly wind and solar energy.
In the first phase, from 2020 up to 2024, the strategic objective is to install at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU and the production of up to 1 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
In a second phase, from 2025 to 2030, hydrogen needs to become an intrinsic part of an integrated energy system with a strategic objective to install at least 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers by 2030 and the production of up to 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU
In a third phase, from 2030 onwards and towards 2050, renewable hydrogen technologies should reach maturity and be deployed at large scale to reach all hard-to decarbonise sectors where other alternatives might not be feasible or have higher costs.