European Parliament votes in favour of CO2 reduction target of 60 percent by 2030

The vote on Wednesday morning was tight, with 352 votes in favour, 326 against and 18 abstentions.

By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

07 Oct 2020

Chair of Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee, French Renew Europe MEP Pascal Canfin, said, “The European Parliament supports the objective of reducing greenhouse gases by 60 percent by 2030! My amendment becomes the official position of the Parliament. We are more than ever leading on climate ambition.”

ENVI Committee Vice-Chair, Dutch Greens member Bas Eickhout said, “Big news! The European Parliament has further tightened European climate law. We are ready for negotiations with the German Presidency.”

Rapporteur on the European Climate Law, Swedish S&D MEP Jytte Guteland, said, “We did it! 60 percent did win. Now we take climate policy to a higher level. Thank you European Parliament for giving me that mandate.”

S&D colleague Mohammed Chahim said that the vote was a victory for Jytte Guteland and the S&D Group, adding, “Proud that there is a majority in this Parliament for a 60 percent reduction by 2030. We really need ambitious interim goals to achieve our ultimate goal - climate neutrality by 2050.”

German Greens deputy Michael Bloss, who gave an impassioned speech on climate change in plenary on Tuesday, reacted to the vote by saying, “The European Parliament anchors an EU climate target of 60 percent CO2 reduction in the Climate Law. We set standards in climate protection. Parliament is going ahead and now we start with climate protection!”

“The European Parliament sets an EU climate target of 60 percent CO2 reduction in the Climate Law. We set standards in climate protection. Parliament is going ahead and now we start with climate protection!” Michael Bloss, Greens/EFA

He added, “Its a great victory for the climate movement. But works starts now.”

Finnish Greens deputy Ville Niinistö said, “This is a moving day after 20 years working as a climate politician. For the first time, we are close to the recommendations of science.”

The Greens/EFA Group called the vote “a huge success” in a statement, adding, “We’ll keep pushing EU countries for more ambition. It's time for climate action for people, the planet and our future.”

The S&D Group said that the European Climate Law is the cornerstone of the European Green Deal, as for the very first time it enshrines into legislation the Union’s objective of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.

"Thanks to the great effort and commitment put forward by the Socialists and Democrats, the EU is moving away from the coal and steel union to become the world’s first climate neutral region," it added.

Belgian Renew Europe MEP Hilde Vautmans pointed out how close the vote was, commenting, “Surprisingly, Parliament has voted in favor of increasing the greenhouse gas reduction target by 60 percent by 2030. It was a very close vote.”

Vautmans expressed her concerns, however, that the target may be somewhat too ambitious, adding, “55 percent would have been more realistic and more economically feasible. Let's see what we need to do now to reach this.”

Indeed, not all MEPs were popping the champagne at the vote result. German EPP deputy Peter Liese expressed his regret that the majority in the Parliament did not support the Commission's proposed target of a 55 percent reduction, but rather voted in favour of the "overambitious 60 percent."

Liese said that instead of voting against the Climate Law, the EPP Group chooses to abstain instead, "because we sincerely dislike the 60 percent and think it really endangers jobs."

He added, "On the other hand, we support climate neutrality and we think it’s important to have a Climate Law. We are very confident that the EU Council will ensure that we come back to the Commission’s proposal of net 55 percent."

Luxembourg Greens deputy Tilly Metz said that although the vote was “a green success” as voting for a 60 percent reductions target by 2030 “would not have been possible just few years ago,” the Greens/EFA Group “will continue fighting for a 65 percent target to avoid climate warming above 1.5°C in line with scientific evidence.”

Parliament's GUE/NGL Group expressed its delight with the vote result, saying, "We defeated the climate laggards on the Right in this decisive fight. While below our 70 percent demand, this is an important victory."

GUE/NGL co-chair Martin Schirdewan said, "A narrow majority with votes from the left for a climate law with a CO2 reduction of 60 percent by 2030. This does not correspond to our proposal of a 70 percent reduction, but it is an important step in the right direction."

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