BRUSSELS – The European Union has reached a tentative climate deal to put the 27-nation bloc on a path to being “climate neutral” by 2050, with member states and parliament agreeing on binding targets for carbon emissions on the eve of a virtual summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.
“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,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said early Wednesday.
Under the provisional deal reached after officials negotiated through the night, the EU will also commit itself to an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
“It was high time for the agreement, as Europe has to show where it stands in view of the positive developments in the USA and China,” said European Parliament member Peter Liese, the negotiator for the EPP Christian Democrat group.
The 2030 target had been 40%, but under the pressure of increasing evidence of climate change and a more environmentally conscious electorate, it was pushed up, although the EU legislature had wanted a higher target of 60%.
Lawmakers from The Greens specifically complained that too many accounting tricks had been used to reach the level of 55% and that in reality the target would equate to a 52.8% reduction of direct emissions.
Michael Bloss, a European lawmaker with the Greens, said EU member nations and parliament “have rushed through a weak climate law for the sake of a photo-op with President Joe Biden.”
Environmental campaigners also criticized the deal.