European Union leaders reached a hard-fought deal on Friday to cut the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by the end of the decade compared with 1990 levels, avoiding a hugely embarrassing deadlock ahead of a United Nations climate meeting this weekend.
Following night-long discussions at their two-day summit in Brussels, the 27 member states approved the EU executive commission’s proposal to toughen the bloc’s intermediate target on the way to climate neutrality by mid-century, after a group of reluctant, coal-reliant countries finally agreed to support the improved goal.
“Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change. We decided to cut our greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030,” said European Council President Charles Michel, who chaired the summit, in a tweet.
That target will replace the bloc’s existing goal to cut emissions 40 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels.
Five years after the Paris agreement, the EU wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming.
Yet the bloc’s heads of states and governments were unable to agree on the new target the last time they met in October, mainly because of financial concerns by eastern nations about how to fund and handle the green transition.
The standoff was an echo of the leaders’ meeting one year ago that also went into the night. Poland, seeking more funds for economic transition from coal – on which it depends for most of its power needs – was the only country that did not commit to the 2050 climate neutrality agreement at that summit.
But the long-awaited deal on a massive long-term budget and coronavirus recovery clinched Thursday by EU leaders swung the momentum.
Large swaths of the record 1.82 trillion-euro ($2.21 trillion) package are set to pour into programmes and investments designed to help the member states, regions and sectors particularly affected by the green transition, which are in need of a deep economic and social transformation.
EU leaders have agreed that 30 percent of the package should be used to support the transition.