EU seeks deal on climate change law, ahead of world leaders summit

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 April 2021 11:52 GMT

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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Negotiators hope to strike deal making pledge to go carbon-neutral by 2050 legally binding

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, April 20 (Reuters) - European Union negotiators will on Tuesday seek a deal on a law to make the bloc's emissions-cutting goals legally binding, as it seeks to cement its claim to be a global climate leader ahead of a summit of global powers this week.

The EU is racing to finish its climate law ahead of a U.S.-hosted summit on Thursday and Friday, when the White House will urge world leaders to make tougher pledges to protect the planet.

Europe's commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions have so far outstripped those of most major emitters, and the EU hopes to raise the leadership bar by enshrining more ambitious targets in law. Only a handful of countries, including Britain, have made their climate goals legally binding.

Negotiators from EU countries and the European Parliament meet on Tuesday to attempt to finish the law containing the EU's goal to eliminate its net emissions by 2050, and a 2030 target to cut emissions faster than previously planned.

"It would be a missed opportunity to show the world that we really do mean business," Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen said of the possibility that Tuesday's talks would not yield a deal. He said there was no risk the EU would backtrack on a minimum EU target agreed in December to cut net emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The main quarrel in Tuesday's negotiations will be whether that goal should be more ambitious. The European Parliament wants a 60% cut in outright emissions.

"I'm absolutely hoping for a deal," Jytte Guteland, Parliament's lead negotiator, said. "But this net target is not ambitious enough."

Member states will moot a compromise on Tuesday to limit the amount of emissions removals that can be counted towards the 2030 target, according to EU officials and documents seen by Reuters.

That could soothe some lawmakers' concerns that polluting sectors would be let off the hook by a net target that can be met by reducing the CO2 produced by sectors like energy or industry, or by removing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon-absorbing forests and wetlands.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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