EU energy ministers back 2030 climate goal update, leave deal for later

German Minister of Economy and Energy Peter Altmaier attends the Day of the German Industry meeting in Berlin, Germany, 05 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN]

Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said talks on Tuesday (6 October) between energy ministers from the 27 EU members had shown that a majority want to update the emissions-cutting target by 2030 for the bloc, on its way to climate neutrality by 2050.

“We have a historic window of opportunity to show … that we are serious about climate neutrality and determined to go this way together with industry,” he said at a press conference after the meeting.

He did not say whether there was a majority to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% this decade from 1990 levels – the target proposed by the European Commission last month, up from 40% currently. Altmaier said he supports a 55% cut.

Some member states expressed concern on Tuesday that deeper emissions reductions would harm their industrial competitiveness, he said.

Altmaier called on the EU to take “courageous” action to impose carbon costs on imported goods, warning that without sufficient protections Europe could lose part of its industry, and low-emissions products would face a competitive disadvantage.

The Commission will propose a carbon border policy by next summer.

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EU Energy chief Kadri Simson said the Commission will also assess how its proposed 2030 climate goal will affect specific sectors.

This has been a key ask by Poland, which has a large coal industry and says it cannot sign up to a tougher emissions-cutting goal without more details.

Member states and the European Parliament must approve a change in the 2030 goal, which will have huge implications for all industrial sectors, the expansion of renewable energy, the build-up of a hydrogen market, and the future use of coal, gas and oil.

The political sensitivity of the target means it will likely be decided by heads of government, rather than ministers – meaning the target would need unanimous support from the 27 countries.

A final agreement on the EU’s 2030 climate target is expected before the end of the year, possibly at an EU leaders summit in December.

'We can do it!': EU chief announces 55% emissions reduction target for 2030

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans on Wednesday (16 September) to target a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of a broader European Green Deal programme aimed at reaching “climate neutrality” by mid-century.

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