EU leaders clinch deal on tougher 2030 climate goal

Leaders from the 27-country bloc agreed to cut their net greenhouse gas emissions at least 55 per cent by 2030. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - European Union countries struck a deal on the bloc's new climate target on Friday (Dec 11) after haggling through the night at a summit in Brussels, pulling the political trigger on a policy revamp to make every sector greener.

Leaders from the 27-country bloc agreed to cut their net greenhouse gas emissions at least 55 per cent by 2030, from 1990 levels, upgrading an existing target to cut by 40 per cent this decade.

The new target aims to put the EU on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050, a deadline scientists say the world must meet to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

"Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change. We decided to cut our greenhouse gas emissions... at least 55 per cent by 2030," European Council President Charles Michel, who chaired the talks, said in a tweet.

"It puts us on a clear path towards climate neutrality in 2050," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said of the new target.

For Brussels, the deal offers a chance to assert its climate leadership on the global stage. The EU will present its target at a United Nations virtual summit of world leaders on Saturday (Dec 12).

The target is a hard-won political compromise between wealthier, mostly western and Nordic EU countries that want more ambitious climate action, and eastern states with coal-dependent power sectors and energy-intensive industries that wanted specific conditions attached to emissions cuts.

Poland held out alone until dawn for a deal that would guarantee promised funding from the EU carbon market for poorer countries would not be reduced.

It also sought assurances that future national emissions-cutting targets, set by Brussels for certain sectors, would be based on gross domestic product - meaning that less prosperous states would be required to cut less.

A majority of countries had opposed these demands on grounds that they would pre-empt detailed policy proposals the EU's executive Commission will make to deliver the target.

Those proposals will overhaul the EU carbon market, speed a shift to electric vehicles and aim to mobilise the huge low-carbon investments needed - including a requirement for extra energy sector investments of €350 billion (S$567 billion) a year this decade.

The "at least 55 per cent" target is as-good-as-final, but will need approval from the European Parliament, which supports a more ambitious 60 per cent emissions cut.

"They are setting us up for a tough negotiation," said Ms Jytte Guteland, Parliament's lead lawmaker on the issue.

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