European Parliament gives green light to EU Climate Law

The law enshrines the bloc’s commitment to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
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By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

24 Jun 2021

The assembly voted through the EU Climate Law on Thursday, with 442 votes in favour, 203 against and 51 abstentions.

Rapporteur on the EU Climate Law, Swedish S&D member Jytte Guteland, said at a plenary debate earlier on Thursday, “Today is an historic day. Today we will enshrine into law that the EU, which started as a coal and steel union more than 70 years ago, will become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 at the latest.”

“With this law, the EU maintains its leadership as the region with the most ambitious targets for climate. Whether we like it or not, the climate crisis will be a major issue for the next generations. Our children will judge us upon what kind of future we left them,” she added.

The S&D Group tweeted, “Some call it a 'man on the moon' moment. But, let's face it: the Apollo mission was a walk in the park compared to the challenge ahead of us. Let's face that challenge right now.”

The EPP, Parliament’s biggest political grouping, welcomed the results of the vote, saying, “Europe’s plan to become climate neutral by 2050 is turned into legislation.”

“We want to reach the goal in a way that creates new employment opportunities, rather than destroying jobs. Climate policy cannot tell industry workers to go home because their factory cannot cope with unrealistic targets, as the Greens propose.”

The group added, “Yes we know, demanding higher and higher ambitions and taking selfies with Greta [Thunberg] can make you popular, but we have to be serious about this. Our future and the future of our children is at stake. We cannot let them down.”

Renew Europe said that the Climate Law transforms political promises into much-needed binding regulations, in order to ensure that the EU becomes climate neutral by 2050 at the latest.

“Today is an historic day. Today we will enshrine into law that the EU, which started as a coal and steel union more than 70 years ago, will become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 at the latest”

Jytte Guteland, rapporteur on EU Climate Law

“We are particularly proud of having ensured that the Commission from now on is obliged to thoroughly screen the alignment of any future legislative proposal with the EU's climate targets,” the group added.

Despite the celebrations from some quarters, other policymakers were less than impressed.

German Greens/EFA deputy Michael Bloss said that the EU Climate Law is unable to meet the Paris climate targets, as its goals would bring global warming between 2 and 3 degrees.

“These aren't just numbers; we're talking about people's lives and huge consequences for nature on this planet.”

Greens/EFA co-leader Ska Keller agreed, saying, “The targets in the EU Climate Law that is up for vote today are simply not ambitious enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and they’re based on accounting tricks. Therefore, the Greens/EFA will vote against. We need bold action instead of half-measures.”

French colleague Marie Toussaint said the Parliament had adopted a “completely insufficient” Climate Law, setting a target for reducing emissions by 52.8 percent, “while we asked, in agreement with scientists, for a reduction of 65 percent by 2030.”

“Yet the European Parliament endorsed the Council’s position of a target of a ‘net’ reduction of 55 percent of emissions by 2030, which in reality allows States to target only 52.8 percent if they take into account carbon sink.”

“The lack of will of the majority of the European Parliament is pushing us towards climate chaos. That’s why, with rebellious MEPs, we are voting against this Climate Law which did not take in account the scale of the emergency” Manon Aubry, The Left co-chair

“It is completely insufficient. But all is not lost. We will fight with the tools we have left to defend the climate and human rights, in particular with the climate adjustment package to the 2030 target, a series of climate policies discussed from July. We go on.”

The Left co-chair, French deputy Manon Aubry, described the EU Climate Law as “a far cry from the ambition needed to face the climate emergency.”

She explained, “According to the IPCC, we should reach global warming of +1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052 if the current rate continues. In 2020, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere reached the highest level ever recorded (419 ppm).”

“The lack of will of the majority of the European Parliament is pushing us towards climate chaos. That’s why, with rebellious MEPs, we are voting against this Climate Law which did not take in account the scale of the emergency.”

The Left colleague, Idoia Villanueva, agreed, saying that given the climate emergency we are experiencing, the Climate Law that was approved today is insufficient.

“No more EU-sponsored greenwashing,” she added.

Belgian ECR member Johan Van Overtveldt said that the Parliament had approved the Climate Law without knowing the impact on Member States.

“We have been asking for that analysis for a year (and recently the heads of government too). So one proceeds further, by touch and with a rickety compass. We do not support the agreement.”

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