Friday

1st Mar 2024

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.

EU climate law: MEPs want EU to be more ambitious

Members of the European Parliament's environment committee on Thursday will vote on a crucial report about the new EU climate law. Lead rapporteur MEP Jytte Guteland expects that most MEPs will support at least 60-percent target for 2030.

Thunberg dubs new EU climate law 'a surrender'

"Nature doesn't bargain, and you cannot make deals with physics", activist Greta Thunberg, and a group of 30 youth environmentalists warned, after dubbing the unprecedented EU climate law 'a surrender' for ignoring a carbon budget.

EU's 2030 climate target left for December summit

EU leaders agreed on Thursday evening to increase the EU's climate ambition for the next decade "collectively". Roughly half of EU countries support a 55-percent emission-reduction target, but now aim to adopt a specific target in December.

EU climate law slammed for delaying action

The EU's unprecedented climate law will be unveiled on Wednesday, making its 2050 climate-neutrality goal irreversible, but proposal has been criticised for postponing action on the 'climate emergency'.

EU welcomes Japan's 2050 climate-neutrality pledge

EU leaders welcomed new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga's pledge to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050 - a move that puts Tokyo's plans on the same timeline as Europe and a decade ahead of China.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

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