EU opens door to gas and nuclear in search for deal on 2030 climate target

Draft EU summit conclusions say countries can "choose the most appropriate technologies" to cut emissions – wording aimed at states including Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland which have sought assurances that they will be able to use nuclear power or natural gas to curb emissions. [Denis Bychkov / Shutterstock]

The European Union is offering assurances on funding for poorer members and countries’ ability to choose their own energy mix, as it strives for a deal next week on a tougher target to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to EU documents and sources.

To get on track for its plan to have “net zero” emissions by 2050, the EU’s executive Commission says the bloc must cut its net emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The EU’s current 2030 target is for a 40% cut.

Leaders from the 27 EU countries aim to approve the new target – by unanimity – at a summit on Thursday and Friday next week (10-11 December).

The challenge is to draft a deal that all countries will support – including states concerned by the economic transformation required, such as Poland and Bulgaria, which want more analysis and conditions attached to the goal.

Warsaw says 'further analysis needed' before EU's 2030 climate target can be agreed

Further analysis into the impact of tougher climate goals on EU member states is needed before Poland can sign up to the European Commission’s proposed 55% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, a senior Polish minister has said.

The latest draft conclusions for the summit, dated Dec. 1 and seen by Reuters, would see countries endorse the “at least 55” target and ask the Commission to make cash available to help poorer states invest in clean energy – a request made by countries including Poland.

It also said countries can “choose the most appropriate technologies” to cut emissions – wording aimed at states including Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland which have sought assurances that they will be able to use nuclear power or natural gas to curb emissions.

EU officials described the latest text as progress, and said Brexit and a spat over the EU budget had so far not derailed the climate talks – though they said it was too early to tell if the text could yield a deal.

“Everyone should be able to hop on the bus now, but you never know who decides to get off before the final stop,” one official said.

An official from a country that has not yet publicly endorsed the 55% goal said it planned to make “further suggestions” to the text before next week’s summit.

Czechs drop opposition to 2030 climate goal ahead of EU summit

The Czech Republic said it was ready to back the EU’s proposed 2030 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55%, provided that the objective is a collective one and that EU state aid rules do not hamper its nuclear ambitions.

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