EU tussle over climate change heats up after Parliament backs 60 per cent emissions cut by 2030

The proposed goal is tougher than the 2030 emissions cut of "at least 55 per cent" proposed by the EU Commission. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - The European Parliament has voted in favour of a legally binding target for the European Union to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2030, against 1990 levels, according to vote results released on Wednesday (Oct 7).

The goal is more ambitious than the net emissions cut of "at least 55 per cent" by 2030 proposed by the European Commission, which wants to finalise the target by the end of the year.

To do that, Parliament will need to agree on the target with EU member countries, which are split over how ambitious it should be.

The EU's current 2030 goal is a 40 per cent emissions cut. The legislative assembly approved the 60 per cent target with a 26-vote majority. It will rubber-stamp its position with another vote on Wednesday.

Ms Jytte Guteland, lead lawmaker on the issue, said Parliament had taken "a big step closer" to fulfilling the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Experts say a 55 per cent cut by 2030 is the minimum effort needed to steer the EU towards becoming climate neutral by 2050, putting EU emissions firmly on a pathway that, if adopted globally, would cap global warming at safe levels.

A 60 per cent target is unlikely to secure support from EU countries.

But Parliament backing a more ambitious aim could make it harder for countries to water down the target in the ensuing negotiations.

"We have decided on really ambitious instruments, and we will not easily give that away," said Green lawmaker Michael Bloss.

Roughly half of the EU's 27 member countries have said they support an emissions cut of "at least 55 per cent" by 2030.

Even this target will have huge implications for all sectors, with higher carbon costs for many businesses and a sharp drop in coal use. The Czech Republic has said it opposes the 55 per cent goal, while coal-heavy Poland wants to see more detailed economic analysis before approving any new target.

That resistance could matter, since heads of government are expected to decide the member states' negotiating position at a summit in either October or December, in a process which requires unanimous support from the 27 countries.

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