23 Oct 2020, 11:56
Julian Wettengel

EU ministers agree on climate law, postpone decision on 2030 emissions target


Clean Energy Wire

European Union environment ministers have agreed a common position on the planned EU climate law, but left the decision on a more ambitious 2030 target for heads of state and government to decide in December. “I am very pleased that the Environment Council has just taken an important step towards agreeing the EU climate law,” said German environment minister Svenja Schulze in a message on Twitter, and highlighted the “constructive cooperation in these difficult negotiations”.

The climate law will make the goal of climate neutrality 2050 legally binding and provide a framework for the bloc’s climate action efforts. It still has to be debated in so-called trilogue negotiations between key EU law making institutions – the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. Ministers today decided “everything except the 2030 target”, said Schulze. They agreed to make the 2050 target an EU-wide goal, despite calls by some member states to set it for individual countries. This would allow some member states to still have net emissions, if other countries are more ambitious and reach negative emissions.

Germany currently holds the EU Council presidency and aims to get member states to agree a new 2030 target before the end of this year, in order to be able to communicate it to the UN. Paris Agreement signatories are called upon to update their nationally determined contributions (NDC) by the end of the year. German chancellor Angela Merkel said that there was “a high level of willingness” to follow the European Commission’s proposal of “at least 55 percent” greenhouse gas reduction among heads of state and governments at their latest meeting.

Some member states have called for more information on what a higher target would mean for their individual economies. During a first public part of today’s meeting, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans managed expectations. “We cannot have the exact impact per member state before we know what the legislation will look like,” he said. This assessment would be published alongside the legislative proposals by June 2021. While some ministers said they support the 55-percent target, others were more sceptical. “We are very fast agreeing on targets […] and then it turns out it’s not so easy to agree on the details of implementing measures,” said Polish undersecretary of state in the climate ministry Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński. He added that shifting the burden from richer to poorer member states on the way to climate neutrality 2050 would not be acceptable for Poland.

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