EU environment ministers strike deal on climate law, leave out 2030 target


  • World
  • Friday, 23 Oct 2020

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers struck a deal on Friday to make the bloc's 2050 net zero emissions target legally binding, but left a decision on a 2030 emissions-cutting target for leaders to discuss in December.

The landmark climate change law will form the basis for Europe's plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions, which will reshape all sectors, from transport to heavy industry, and require hundreds of billions of euros in annual investments.

It will fix in law the EU target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and define the rules for reviewing progress towards climate targets.

Ministers struck a deal on these parts of the law at a meeting in Luxembourg on Friday. None of the 27 member countries rejected the bill, although Bulgaria abstained.

A decision on the most politically sensitive part of the bill - a new 2030 emissions-cutting target - was left for EU leaders to agree, unanimously, at a December meeting.

The law will give Brussels "the legal possibility to act when those who make promises don't deliver on the promises," said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans at Friday's meeting. It was held in person, despite much of the continent restricting gatherings to curb surging coronavirus infections.

Ministers agreed to make the 2050 net zero emissions target an EU-wide goal, rather than a requirement for individual countries, potentially letting some have higher emissions if others make deeper cuts.

The European Parliament, which together with EU countries must agree the final law, wants to make the target binding on each country. States including Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg on Friday also supported this idea.

Ministers agreed the EU should set an emissions-cutting goal for 2040, and Commission can consider new legislative measures to cut EU emissions if existing ones fall short.

The price of permits in the EU carbon market climbed by more than 5% on Friday morning in anticipation of the ministers' deal. The EU's climate targets are expected to tighten the supply of permits in the market.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Marine Strauss, Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry)

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