Thursday

3rd Dec 2020

Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country

  • EU environment ministers reached a partial agreement on the bloc's first-ever climate law (Photo: European Union)

EU environment ministers on Friday (23 October) reached a partial agreement on the bloc's first-ever climate law, leaving the decision on the updated 2030-target for EU leaders, who will attempt to strike a deal in December.

"I am very pleased that the Environment Council has just taken an important step towards agreeing on the EU climate law," tweeted German environment minister Svenja Schulze, who chaired the meeting, highlighting the "constructive cooperation in these difficult negotiations".

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EU ministers decided that the 2050 zero net-emissions target should be an EU-wide goal, despite the calls by some member states, such as Denmark, Luxembourg and Sweden, who wanted to make it legally-binding for each EU country.

The climate law will be an instrument of "self-discipline" to achieve the bloc's climate target, but it will also provide "predictability and legal certainty," the commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, told ministers on Friday.

While none of the 27 EU countries rejected the bill, Bulgaria decided to abstain - saying the climate law should include some of the aspects agreed by EU countries when they adopted the 2050 climate-neutrality in December last year, such as that each member state has the "right to determine its own energy mix".

How ambitious the 2030 emission-reduction target should be was also a matter of concern for some EU ministers, who reiterated their appeal to the European Commission to assess "the specific situation" of each country.

However, Timmermans said that the individual impact assessments would be presented alongside the legislative proposals by June 2021.

Last month, the EU commission proposed to increase the 2030 climate target from 40 to 55 percent (down from 1990 levels) after carrying out an EU-wide impact assessment.

While the majority of EU countries supported setting a more ambitious target for the bloc, other member states, like fossil-fuel-dependent Poland, expressed concerns about different starting positions and possibly deepening inequalities.

Polish undersecretary of state in the climate ministry Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński said that that shifting the burden from richer to poorer member states to achieve the 2050 climate-neutrality goal will not be acceptable for Poland.

After 2023, EU ministers also want the commission to propose an intermediate target for 2040, to be approved by member states.

The partial agreement reached last week paves the way to start negotiations with the European Parliament, which aims to reach a political consensus before the end of the year and ahead the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

Also on Friday, EU ministers adopted the EU biodiversity strategy, which includes cutting pesticides and placing more land under environmental protection.

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