Eastern countries hold out for more cash on EU climate deal


  • World
  • Friday, 04 Dec 2020

FILE PHOTO: Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, near Belchatow, Poland. Picture taken November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has not yet won over countries seeking more cash and conditions in exchange for committing to sharper emissions cuts, as it tries to strike a deal on on its new climate target by the end of the year.

The EU has promised to make a tougher emissions-cutting target this year under the Paris climate accord, a move U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said is "essential" to global efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The aim is for leaders of the 27-nation EU, which is the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, to endorse the new goal at a summit on Dec. 10-11.

But that ambition looks increasingly shaky. Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto the bloc's next budget, which could freeze the cash they and other countries say they need to curb their emissions.

The latest draft of the climate deal, seen by Reuters, would commit the EU to cut emissions by "at least 55%" by 2030, from 1990 levels. The EU's current target is a 40% cut.

The deal also includes a so-called "enabling framework", sketching out a plan to deliver the goal, with assurances on EU funding and countries' right to choose their own energy mix. This is where the problems lie.

EASTERN DISCOMFORT

EU officials said several countries, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta and Bulgaria, were not ready to endorse the latest text.

"The enabling framework is not sufficient at this point," a Czech official said, calling for clearer guarantees of funding for the "costly" economic transition ahead. "We are definitely going to need more assurance from the EU."

A Slovak official said the latest draft "goes in the right direction", but that eastern countries' requests had not been fully met. Those include doubling an EU fund, made up of revenues from carbon trading, to help poorer countries invest in clean power.

An official from another country not yet backing the deal said it was "vague" and called for an acknowledgement that countries' contributions to the EU target would vary based on their size and economic heft.

Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands are among the states pushing for a climate deal next week.

Britain, now outside the EU, upgraded its own 2030 emissions-cutting goal on Thursday, and with major emitters like China also mulling tougher targets, campaigners warned the EU not to get left behind.

"The EU's credibility is in the balance," Greenpeace policy advisor Sebastian Mang said.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by John Chalmers and Gareth Jones)

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