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25th Oct 2021

EU climate law: MEPs want EU to be more ambitious

  • Centre-right European People’s Party MEPS remain divided, with some saying that a 55 percent reduction target for 2030 is 'unrealistic' (Photo: DerGuy82)

MEPs on the environment committee on Thursday (10 September) will vote on a crucial report about the new EU climate law - the framework to make legally-binding the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality goal and update the EU climate target for 2030.

The draft of EU climate law presented by the European Commission in March proposed increasing the 2030 emission-reduction target from 40 percent to between 50 and 55 percent, compared to 1990 levels.

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But the EU executive said at that point that it needed to assess the impact of such increase - the resulting study is expected this month.

Commission president Ursula von de Leyen is expected to announce the updated 55-percent climate target for 2030 next week, during her first State of the Union speech.

However, at least according to the Greens and Social Democrats in the European Parliament, the 2030 target must be at least 65 percent.

Meanwhile, leftist MEPs from the GUE/NGL party have been pushing for 70 percent.

Swedish Social Democrat MEP Jytte Guteland, who is the leading rapporteur on the EU's new climate law, said in her report that the 2030 target should be at least 65 percent.

However, she expects that a majority of fellow lawmakers will only support a 60-percent reduction target at Thursday's vote - which is a figure largely agreed by the liberals of Renew Europe.

"If we agree on 60 percent we are not that far away from where we need to be," Guteland told EUobserver.

"For the sake of the EU, its citizens, the planet and the industry, we need to do more the first decade. The first 10 years are very crucial. If we emit more [emissions] we will have a very difficult situation after 2030," she added.

EPP not sure

Meanwhile, MEPs from the centre-right European People's Party, the largest group in the parliament, remain divided, with some saying that von der Leyen's 55-percent reduction target for 2030 is "unrealistic".

"We support the idea of the commission 50-55 percent, and we look forward to the impact assessment, hoping that it says that 55 percent is possible," said MEP Peter Liese, who belongs to German chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party.

However, MEP Markus Pieper, also from the German CDU, said that a reduction target of 55 percent would be "unrealistic" and "demand too much from a European industry still reeling from the Covid-19 crisis".

For his part, MEP Markus Ferber believes that "the EU is already a pioneer in climate protection" in comparison to other countries in the international community - a key aspect for the largest group of the parliament.

"Instead of constantly setting new goals, we should make sure that we actually achieve the goals we have set so far," he tweeted.

Additionally, European Conservatives and Reformists group said that raising the EU's emissions targets for 2030 to 60 or 65 percent "sends the wrong message to businesses and ignores the concerns of communities and workers whose livelihoods are set to change dramatically as a result".

"The European Union must be ambitious in its plans to tackle climate change, yet this ambition must be matched with pragmatism and credible action," said MEP Anna Zalewska.

More than 1,000 amendments

Thursday's vote will cover more than 1,000 amendments. Among them, MEPs want to make the EU's 2050 objective mandatory for individual countries - forcing member states like Poland to uphold to the bloc's climate commitments.

EU lawmakers also insist that the trajectory towards the 2030 goal should be established via co-decision rather than delegated acts.

The outcome will be voted on in the plenary session of October to then move forward into the trilogue stage - when a compromise must also be reached with the European Council.

However, only a dozen of the EU's 27 member state governments have clearly expressed their support for the 55 percent reduction target for 2030.

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A new report indicates that the EU's plan to reduce the bloc's greenhouse emissions by 55 percent by 2030 is "technically and economically feasible" - with a reform of EU carbon market and "adequate safeguards" for low-income EU countries.

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EU environment ministers reached on Friday a partial agreement on the bloc's climate law, pending a decision by EU leaders on the updated 2030 target. While none of the 27 EU countries rejected the bill, Bulgaria decided to abstain.

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