It might have taken 21 hours, but the European Union’s 27 member states have agreed to toughen targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 — a vast improvement from the 40 percent target set in 2019.
Last December, the European Commission — the political bloc’s executive arm — unveiled the European Green Deal, which set the goal for reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Now, five years after the Paris climate agreement, the EU has agreed to cut emissions even further amid rising concern that saving humanity from the worst effects of climate change will be impossible without strong leadership.
The increased target is featured in the EU’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus recovery and long-term budget package that was finalized on Friday. The plan will be officially announced on December 12 at the UN’s Climate Ambition Summit 2020, which will be the largest gathering of leaders from governments, businesses, and civil society groups since the Paris accord was signed.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen celebrated the decision in a tweet, saying their “ambitious proposal” to slice emissions would put the EU “on a clear path towards climate neutrality in 2050.”
The agreement, reached after final talks began on Thursday, faced some hurdles. Poland held up the process by demanding that future emissions targets be determined by GDP, meaning the bloc’s poorer countries — like Poland — could pollute more than wealthier ones. It was an unsurprising ask as Poland’s economy relies on using coal, a big emissions contributor.
That issue was tabled, though, with members agreeing to meet next year on the matter. That paved the way for the historic announcement, one that could
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