16 Oct 2020, 13:23
Julian Wettengel

“High willingness” among EU member states for 55%-climate target – Merkel

Clean Energy Wire

The European Union's heads of state and government have agreed to decide on a more ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target at the next leaders’ summit in December. “There was a high level of willingness to follow [European] Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s path to agree a more ambitious climate target for the EU for 2030, namely 55 percent,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting with her counterparts in Brussels. “However, it was pointed out that we have to safeguard jobs, keep our economy running and not lose our competitiveness with other regions in the world which don’t do as much climate action.” Merkel said she expects there would be intensive debates until the December meeting. The official meeting conclusions said work at the minister level would continue. It also said all member states must contribute to reaching a new goal, but national circumstances and considerations of fairness and solidarity would be taken into account.

In not already making a decision, NGO Germanwatch sees a “danger for the international dynamic for more ambitious climate targets”, which had received renewed momentum when China announced it aims for carbon neutrality before 2060. “Valuable time is thus lost in convincing more countries to increase their climate targets,” said Berlin office head Lutz Weischer.

German NGO umbrella organisation DNR head Kai Niebert said it was “regrettable” that EU leaders didn’t go beyond a first exchange of views and called on Merkel to “turn on the diplomatic turbo” and use all her political weight to ensure the EU agreed an ambitious target by December. “At the UN special summit in December to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the EU must not be empty-handed, otherwise it will risk choking off the international momentum for more climate action that has just been created.”

Green European Parliament member Michael Bloss called on leaders to “finally take the climate crisis serious”. In a message on Twitter he said December is too late for a decision and there had to a be a special climate summit.

The European Commission this week said that member states are largely well on their way to reaching their existing energy and climate targets. However, these are likely to become obsolete, as the bloc is set to decide a more ambitious joint greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030. The Commission had proposed “at least 55 percent” (currently 40%) – which is also supported by Germany and many other governments – and the European Parliament had called for 60 percent. Some member states are sceptical of higher targets, for example Poland, which had called for more support in the transition. Once member state governments agree their position in the Council, all three institutions have to find a compromise to agree the official EU target, which will be included in the upcoming EU climate law.

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