By Anders Lorenzen
The leaders of the 27 European Union (EU) member states last month agreed on new climate targets to further increase their ambitions. The block has agreed to cut their net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030 – which toughened their existing 40% target and is another step in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, which scientists say is the bare minimum needed to avert climate change spiralling out of control.
The EU block spans east to west, with the east much more reliant on coal than the wealthier western and nordic nations who are more advanced in their transition towards renewables; therefore this was seen as a compromise agreement. During the course of negotiations, eastern nations with more energy-intensive industries powered by coal wanted specific conditions attached to emission cuts, and western nations wanting more ambition.
A credible target
The talks were chaired by the European Council President Charles Michel who called the EU a leader in the fight against climate change and said it was a hard-fought-for but ‘credible’ target.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said these new targets would put the EU on a clear path towards climate neutrality by 2050.
One of the people instrumental in securing the Paris Agreement, Laurence Tubiana, now CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF) praised the new goals:
“I am very happy to be a European these days. Europe committed to climate neutrality by 2050, and now, just as importantly, to put climate and environment at the centre of its economy and society. It’s no longer a climate goal – it’s a societal goal for the EU.”
Green groups not impressed
However, green groups were less impressed. Sebastian Mang, climate policy adviser at Greenpeace said about the new goals: “Governments will no doubt call it historic, but the evidence shows that this deal is only a small improvement on the emission cuts the EU is already expected to achieve. It shows that political convenience takes precedence over climate science and that most politicians are still afraid to take on big polluters”.
The targets were presented at the UN’s virtual Climate Ambition Summit on the 12th of December during which a number of other nations also came forward with new pledges and goals ahead of the crucial COP26 UN climate summit in November this year.
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