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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

05 September 2023 – A new policy briefing from the Corporate Leaders Group Europe calls on the EU to set a 2040 GHG emissions reduction target of at least 90% net reduction compared to 1990 levels.

Download the briefing.


As the EU initiates the process of setting its 2040 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), CLG Europe calls for an emissions reduction target of at least 90% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.

Raising European Climate Ambition for 2040: A CLG Europe position paper builds on CLG Europe’s previous calls for ambitious target setting on decarbonisation, and sets out why the EU needs to set a 2040 target which reflects the urgency of addressing the climate crisis and benefits of near term action while establishing a clear direction of travel for a transition towards a climate neutral economy within the EU by 2050 with beneficial outcomes for climate, people, and nature;  and why this target should be at least 90% emissions reductions based on analysis and quantitative assessments.

It proposes guiding principle to deliver the target in a way that accelerates the energy transition, improves the competitiveness of EU industries, drives deep decarbonisation across all sectors of the economy, enhances consistency with nature objectives and circularity, and ensures a just transition. The briefing sets examples of businesses taking action to decarbonise their operations and value chains, by or even before 2040, by switching to low carbon energy, transitioning to electric vehicles and developing low carbon and fossil free materials.

Ten guiding principles are set out to achieve the 2040 target:

  1. Accelerate electrification, energy efficiency, and phase out fossil fuels
  2. Ensure that the costs and benefits of the transition are equitably distributed
  3. Embed the principle of competitive sustainability into the EU’s industrial strategy and climate policies
  4. Deploy all available levers to rapidly increase energy efficiency and reduce embedded emissions from the building sector
  5. Harness circular economy and eco-design solutions for environmental and climate benefits
  6. Harness the synergies between climate and nature objectives
  7. Adopt a realistic and evidence-based approach to carbon removals
  8. Significantly increase EU and national budgetary allocations for climate and nature
  9. Set a post 2030 climate and energy political framework building on the successful implementation of the Fit for 55 Package
  10. Lead decarbonisation efforts globally

Citing this briefing

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2023). Raising European Climate Ambition for 2040: A CLG Europe Position Paper. Cambridge, UK: CLG Europe.

Read quotes from CISL and CLG members about the report here.

Learn more about CLG Europe's work with policymakers.

Read CLG Europe's response to the European Commission public consultation on the EU climate target for 2040.

Read CLG Europe's position paper on raising European climate ambition for 2030.

Published: September 2023

For enquiries, please contact:

Maeve Campbell, Press Manager

Maeve Campbell, Press Manager

Email | T: +44 7882 147 980

Authors and acknowledgements

This report has been prepared by Sanna Markkanen, Anum Sheikh, Romain Pardo, Aoife Blanchard, Kirsten McNamee and Ursula Woodburn, with support from Katherine Quinn, Harry Greenfield, and Izzy Thomas.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL or any of its individual business partners or clients.


Copyright © 2023 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved.

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