European countries should prepare for a far-reaching debate on the “profound lifestyle changes” required to limit climate change, according to a leaked European commission document.
The commission will tell foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday that a Europe-wide debate is needed on how to limit global warming to 1.5C, according to a staff working document for ministers seen by the Guardian.
It was written in response to last December’s Paris climate summit, which agreed a plan for cutting emissions to net zero after mid-century, and an intent to peg global warming to 1.5C.
Temperatures have already risen by 1C since pre-industrial times and slamming the brakes on climate change “is by no means an easy undertaking”, the document says.
“It will require exploring possibilities for realising ‘negative’ emissions as well as profound lifestyle changes of current generations.”
Negative emissions can refer to carbon capture and storage technology powered by biomass, geo-engineering of the atmosphere and oceans, or CO2 removal that sucks emissions out of the air.
A review of the ambition of the bloc’s pledge to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 will be crucial, the paper adds. This will take place after a report is published by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, in 2018.
“There is no requirement that the EU updates its 2030 headline target as a result of this process in 2020, but the timeframe presents the EU with an opportunity to do so,” it says.
The decade’s end will be “the only significant political moment before 2030 to leverage more ambition from other major economies like China and India,” as well as the US and Brazil, the document states.
However, the European commission is known to already be developing scenarios for increased emissions cuts through energy savings and a new renewable energy directive. In that context, green groups said they were disappointed that action on the hard-won 1.5C target was being delayed.