European Climate Law: EU Clinches Ambitious Climate Deal Ahead of Biden Summit

Written by | Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

European Union negotiations have agreed a deal on the European Climate Law to cut emissions 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, though the Green bloc in the European Parliament is not happy. Through the deal, the EU will enshrine the its commitment to reaching climate neutrality by 2050, said European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday (21 April). The deal, which still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and its member states, would also see the bloc cut emissions more steeply by 2030. “The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation,” von der Leyen added. “It is our binding pledge to our children and grandchildren.”
This will thus allow the EU to go into this week’s US-hosted climate summit with an agreement on the bloc’s 2030 target. As expected, the 2030 target was the big political fight of the night, but parties reached an agreement to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by “at least 55%” by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. That objective will therefore also become a legal obligation for the EU and its member states. While the 55% target is lower than the 60% that Parliament had earlier voted for, EU member states made a concession to MEPs by agreeing to cap the contribution of carbon removals from land use, agriculture and forestry. In addition, the European Commission agreed to consider increasing the contribution of carbon sinks in order to bump up the EU’s climate ambition to 57%, although this is not written in the law. Bowing to Parliament’s demands, EU negotiators also decided to establish an independent scientific advisory body, the European Scientific Advisory Board, consisting of 15 members from across Europe, to advise policymakers on the alignment of EU policies with the bloc’s climate neutrality goal.
Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s executive vice-president in charge of the European Green Deal, welcomed the deal, describing it as “a landmark moment for the EU. … The Climate Law will shape the EU’s green recovery and ensure a socially just green transition.” Pascal Canfin, the chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee, also hailed the deal, saying that “today, Europe confirms its leadership in the fight against climate change. … Parliament was obviously ready to go even further, but the compromise found is ambitious: we are going to do two and a half times more in nine years than what we have done in the last 10 years in Europe.” João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the Portuguese minister of environment and climate action, was equally happy with the outcome: “Today we can be proud to have set in stone an ambitious climate goal that can get everyone’s support. With this agreement we send a strong signal to the world – right ahead of the Leader’s Climate Summit on 22 April – and pave the way for the Commission to propose its ‚fit-for-55‘ climate package in June.”

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