EU leaders to push for climate neutrality at next week’s summit, draft shows

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, speaks during an interview in Madrid, Spain, 02 December 2019. [EPA-EFE/JAVIER LIZON]

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels next week will push to agree to put the bloc on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, their draft joint statement showed on Monday (2 December), heralding a bitter fight looming at their gathering.

The Dec. 12-13 summit of the bloc’s national leaders will aim to endorse “the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050,” according to the document seen by Reuters.

European Council president Charles Michel said he will work to “convince” all member states to agree on achieving climate neutrality by 2050 in next week’s summit. He also vowed to pay attention to the “sensitivities” and “interests” of the most economically affected countries.

“Europe could become a green economy leader by investing in research, technology and innovation to guarantee jobs creation and social wellbeing while reducing the climate threat,” Michel told EFE in an interview during the COP25 UN climate summit in Madrid.

Previous attempts, however, were blocked by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, who rely on highly polluting coal. They have previously said they oppose climate neutrality by 2050 for fear cutting greenhouse emissions will stifle their economies.

To convince the reluctant camp, the draft summit conclusions refer to “just and socially balanced transition”, the European Investment Bank’s announcement to unlock 1 trillion euros worth of green investment until 2030, the need to ensure energy security and competitiveness vis-à-vis foreign powers not pursuing such climate goals.

Poland wants fresh EU money to back climate neutrality goal

Achieving climate neutrality requires “significantly larger” amounts of funding than what is currently on offer in the EU’s long-term budget proposal for 2021-2027, Warsaw said in a memo circulated ahead of an EU leaders’ summit opening today.

The draft, prepared in advance of the leaders’ discussions, may still change. But it will eventually need unanimous backing of all EU national leaders for there to be agreement at the summit.

The bloc’s new executive European Commission also aims to push for climate neutrality by mid-century and wants to make the EU’s 2030 climate targets more ambitious.

Current targets envisage cutting the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The new Commission, led by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, hopes to raise the goal to at least 50%.

Behind-the-curtain of the EU’s 2050 climate plan, part II

In October 2018, EURACTIV revealed how the European Commission was planning to propose an ambitious new climate plan for 2050. Now the EU is on the cusp of agreeing to implement it. Here is how the pieces line up ahead of crunch talks later in December.

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