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25th Sep 2022

EU centre-right pledges 'moderate' climate solution

  • Irish PM Leo Varadkar at the Zagreb congress: "Green issues cannot be only for the Green party' he told delegates (Photo: EPP)

The EU's largest political party's committed itself on Thursday (21 November) to giving what it called a "balanced response" to the climate emergency - providing a middle ground between radical solutions and climate-change deniers.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) said it would meet the ambitious targets set by EU commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen, according to the chairman of the party in the European parliament, Manfred Weber, at their party congress in Zagreb.

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Earlier this year, von der Leyen said the EU needed to be more ambitious on its 2030 target, in order to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

However, "the main priority will be to bring a balanced solution that includes people and industry," said Weber, adding that by 2024 the EPP will have implemented a climate policy.

The effects of climate change and energy transition in Europe will not be homogenous among member states - there are coal and energy-intensive regions in Europe and different perspectives over how to achieve 'clean energy'.

Those in power have the political and moral obligation to do something meaningful about climate change, said Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"We can either choose to lead by example, implementing real policies that will have a meaningful impact, or we risk losing touch with the younger generations that truly care about this issue," Mitsotakis warned.

According to the resolution adopted at the EPP congress, "climate scepticism and denial were never a way forward but neither are utopian environmentalist policies or green socialism which threaten our economic future and jobs".

Climate change may be the dominant issue of our time but "green issues cannot be only for the Green party," said Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar.

"We do know that we can be the political force that brings the people with us. The centre ground, agricultural communities, and industry. That is our real strength. Getting things done," he added.

'Cannot be radical'

The EU's current objective is "at least a 40 percent reduction" in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.

However, the EPP supports the new "ambitious proposal" of von der Leyen's commission to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030.

Earlier this week, Green MEP Bas Eeckhout said his group "expect from the other groups to not only make nice declarations, but to agree on concrete actions like the increase of the EU 2030 climate target to 65 percent and no more EU money for fossil fuels in the MFF [multi-year financial framework".

According to the EU commission, 92 percent of Europeans agree that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to a minimum to make the EU economy climate-neutral by 2050.

However, according to centre-right Portuguese MEP Lidia Pereira, "we cannot ignore that there are communities dependent on fossil fuels".

"We need to be realistic, the energy transition should not leave anyone behind," she told EUobserver, pointing out that "we are currently in a transition phase and we cannot be radical".

Additionally, the EU must update its long-term climate goals in 2020. To do so, MEP will vote on the EU's commitment to achievieng climate neutrality by 2050 next week.

"Europe needs to bring a solution because member states cannot solve the problems by themselves," said Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd, who believes that figures are useful numbers to keep stakeholders focused on a goal.

"Emissions know no borders which means that we need cooperation between all countries to make a difference," Polfjärd added.

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