EU Parliament votes for 60% carbon emissions cut by 2030

News from Brussels

Source: Euractiv, 2020-10-07

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday (6 October) to update the EU’s climate target for 2030, backing a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade, up from 40% currently.

Lawmakers in the EU assembly voted the proposed amendment on the 2030 target by 352 votes to 326, with 18 abstentions, according to estimates.

The text will now be forwarded to the EU Council of Ministers representing the EU’s 27 member states for final approval. The EU’s objective is to wrap up negotiations by the end of the year.

The Parliament’s decision on the 2030 climate target took place on Tuesday 6 October evening as part of a wider vote on a proposed European Climate Law, which seeks to enshrine into hard legislation the EU’s goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

“We did it! 60% did win!” said Jytte Guteland, a Swedish MEP from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, who was the Parliament rapporteur on the proposed European Climate Law.

“My amendment is now becoming the official position of the Parliament,” said Pascal Canfin, a French centrist MEP who chairs the assembly’s environment committee. “We are more than ever at the forefront of climate ambition!” he tweeted victoriously.

The right wing of the hemicycle was not impressed, however, saying the 60% would be too costly to implement for Europe’s industry.

Peter Liese, a German lawmaker from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), said the 60% goal was “overambitous” and called on EU member states to back the European Commission’s initial proposal for a 55% cut instead.

“I regret that the majority in the European Parliament did not support the European Commission’s Climate Law proposal but voted for the overambitious 60%,” Liese said on Twitter.

“We will abstain because we sincerely dislike the 60% and think it really endangers jobs,” he said.

The EPP is the largest political faction in the European Parliament. It said it supports the 55% CO2 reduction target because “it is the most feasible,” according to European Commission estimates.

The European Commission tabled the updated 2030 target in September, saying a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was “achievable” and “beneficial” for the EU economy.

“Going beyond 55% would endanger jobs. Let’s not be ideological,” said Agnes Evren, a French MEP from the EPP group.

Environmental campaigners, for their part, hailed the vote as a victory in the fight against climate change. “The European Parliament is to be applauded for taking a position that is far more progressive than the Commission’s 55% ‘net’ proposal,” said the WWF.

However, it said the 60% target for 2030 is still not in line with what the science shows is needed to keep global warming at manageable levels, in line with the 1.5-2C target of the Paris Agreement. “WWF and other NGOs have been calling for at least 65% emissions reductions by 2030, and a separate target for carbon removals from sinks.”

Crucially, lawmakers also voted in favour of proposals ensuring that each EU member state reaches climate neutrality individually by 2050. The alternative would have seen some EU countries allowed to overshoot the 2050 target provided that others meet it early.

MEPs will continue voting this morning on other aspects of the EU Climate Law, such as the creation of a ‘European Climate Change Council’ – a scientific advisory body that would be appointed to scrutinise the consistency of EU policies with the bloc’s climate neutrality objective.

The Parliament’s final position will be confirmed in a vote on Wednesday 7 October, with final results announced on Thursday 8 October morning.

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