EU fails to agree a net zero emissions target for 2050

Article by Amanda Doyle

FOUR countries have blocked an EU proposal which aims to set a net zero emissions target for the bloc for 2050.

The European Commission’s proposal for a 2050 net zero target needed a unanimous decision. Only eight countries backed the proposal at the last meeting in March. At a summit held in Brussels last week, 24 countries backed the 2050 target, but the proposal was blocked by Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary.

It was hoped that the EU could show positive climate action ahead of a UN climate summit in New York in September and therefore spur other countries into action.

According to The Guardian, the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on his arrival at the summit “Why should we decide 31 years ahead of time what will happen in 2050?” He also reportedly questioned why Europe should do anything when China’s emissions were increasing. According to The Financial Times, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters: “Poland is one of those countries that must first have a very detailed compensation package. We must know how much we can get for modernisation.”

The final text commits the EU to ensuring a climate-neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement but omits a target date. It includes a footnote saying that: “For a large majority of Member States, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050.”

Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office, said: “The reference to being in line with the Paris Agreement in such a flimsy text makes a mockery of that Agreement, and should not be allowed to stand.”

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said: “It is hard to believe that these four governments, driven by the narrow interests of their polluting industries, succeeded in their opposition to a widely-supported and badly-needed increase of the EU’s climate ambition. Failure to set new, higher EU climate targets is irresponsible given the climate emergency we are facing. EU leaders need to urgently come back to the negotiating table at another Council meeting to circumvent the veto ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September.”

The net zero target could still be adopted at the European Council summit in October, however this is likely to be dominated by Brexit talks as the UK is currently due to leave the EU on 31 October.

The UK recently set a net zero by 2050 target, but with a caveat to review the target in five years if other countries don’t follow suit with similar targets.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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