Parliament, Commission and Member States strike ‘landmark’ climate deal

The EU Climate 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 Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

21 Apr 2021

EU climate targets will now be enshrined in law after negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission met late into the night before announcing they had struck a deal early on Wednesday morning.

The EU Climate Law is still subject to approval by the Council and Parliament before going through the formal steps of the adoption procedure.

Last December, the EU agreed to cut net emissions at least 55 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels. Parliament wanted a 60 percent cut in emissions, an ambition it did not achieve in the talks.

This was a sticking point in the negotiations. Some, such as the Greens, said the agreed level equates to only 52.8 percent of direct emissions reductions when excluding so-called carbon sinks.

The deal reached early on Wednesday morning says that the main carbon reduction efforts should come from emissions reduction. The remainder is to be achieved by carbon sinks.

A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are vegetation and the ocean.

Parliament, though, was successful in its demands for an independent scientific climate council and a carbon budget.

The proposed European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change will be composed of 15 senior scientific experts of different nationalities with no more than two members holding the nationality of the same Member State for a mandate of four years.

“I am delighted that we have reached an agreement on this core element of the European Green Deal. Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment”

Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President

This independent board will be tasked, among other things, with providing scientific advice and reporting on EU measures, climate targets and indicative greenhouse gas budgets and their coherence with the European climate law and the EU's international commitments under the Paris Agreement.

It was also agreed that the Commission will publish a projected indicative Union’s greenhouse gas budget for the period 2030-2050.

Negotiators also agreed that the Commission would “engage with sectors of the economy that choose to prepare indicative voluntary roadmaps towards achieving the Union’s climate neutrality objective by 2050.”

The Commission will “monitor the development of such roadmaps, facilitate the dialogue at EU-level, and share best practices among relevant stakeholders.”

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, “I am delighted that we have reached an agreement on this core element of the European Green Deal. Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment.”

“The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation. It is our binding pledge to our children and grandchildren.”

The EU was keen to agree its climate law ahead of a US-hosted virtual “World Leaders Summit” on climate on Thursday and Friday.

In June, the Commission will present its package for implementing the climate goals, which will include legislative proposals on energy efficiency, emissions trading and energy taxation.

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Energy & Climate
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