The European Union struck a major deal that could make the 27-nation bloc climate-neutral by 2050 as member states and parliament agreed on the targets on the eve of a virtual summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.
“Our political commitment to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment. The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen early Wednesday.
Under the provisional deal reached after officials negotiated through the night, the EU also commits itself on an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
“It was high time for the agreement, as Europe has to show where it stands in view of the positive developments in the U.S. and China,” said MEP Peter Liese, the negotiator for the EPP Christian Democrat group.
Up to now, the 2030 target had been 40% but under the pressure of increasing evidence of climate change and a more environmentally-conscious electorate that target was pushed up, even if the EU legislature had wanted at 60% target.
The Greens specifically complained that too many accounting tricks had been used to reach the level of 55% while in reality, the reduction would be lower.
The United States, the world’s second-biggest polluter after China, is preparing to announce its new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Under Biden, the United States has returned to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and all global partners will be meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, to push for strong targets.
Both Washington and Brussels are aiming to go “carbon neutral” by midcentury, a goal scientists say needs to be achieved to keep average global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the year 2100. The Paris accord’s more ambitious target of capping global warming at 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times would likely require even more drastic worldwide cuts in emissions.
Wednesday's EU deal still needs to be officially approved by the member states and the legislature but should be little more than a rubber stamp.
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