Greens lawmakers rue lack of ambition in EU climate law

Green members of the European Parliament are criticizing the lack of ambition of the European Commission’s strategy to reach climate neutrality by 2050

As the European Union prepares to unveil plans for a climate law to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century, Green members of the European Parliament are already ruing its lack of ambition, urging the 27-nation bloc to raise its 2030 climate targets.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has put climate change at the top of her priorities and pledged to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050, will present her plans on Wednesday. To add luster to the event, she has invited climate activist Greta Thunberg to discuss the climate legislation with her and EU commissioners.

According to a leaked draft of the proposals establishing the 2050 goal, the European Commission is proposing a mechanism for regularly raising the EU’s emissions reduction target over the next three decades, but there is no plan for an increase of the EU’s overall emissions goal for 2030.

In the draft, the European Commission said it will review the EU’s current target of a 40% greenhouse gas reduction and “explore options for a new 2030 target of 50% to 55% emission reductions compared with 1990 levels.”

Both environmental group Greenpeace and Green lawmakers in the European Parliament say that delaying an upgraded 2030 target will have damaging political consequences. Michael Bloss, a lawmaker with the German Green Party, said it’s essential that the 2030 target should be fixed well ahead of the U.N climate talks that will be held in Glasgow in November if Europe wants to be in a position to apply pressure on big-emitting countries such as China.

“We need our European goal published as soon as possible,” he said on Tuesday. “The commission’s delaying tactics in putting forward the updated 2030 target is irresponsible. Emissions must be reduced by at least 65%by 2030 and could should be phased out by 2030 at the latest if we are to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.”

World leaders agreed five years ago in Paris to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century. Scientists say countries will miss both of those goals by a wide margin unless drastic steps are taken to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions this year.

Greenpeace said that by failing to include a 2030 target, “there is a very real risk that the EU could go empty handed to the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow this November.”

Greenpeace also insists a 55% reduction target for 2030 wouldn’t be sufficient to limit global heating to 2 degrees Celsius.

To set a common trajectory and impose revised targets to member states every five years from 2023, the European Commission is also planning to adopt “delegated acts,” legally binding legislation that can enter into force if the European Parliament and European Council have no objections.

That mechanism could spark concerns among fossil fuel dependent member states which need to reorganize their economy in order to reach the 2050 target agreed last year by all EU members except Poland, and might struggle to commit to ambitious intermediate targets.

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