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EU Deeply Divided Over Net Zero Emissions Target


While the U.K. government this week pledged laws enforcing net-zero emissions by 2050, that goal has divided EU governments.

European Union leaders plan to underscore the importance of the fight against climate change when they meet next week, though their words will stop short of a mandate to move toward zeroing out fossil fuel emissions.

Heads of government will pledge “building a more climate-friendly, neutral, green, fair and inclusive future” at the summit in Brussels on June 21 and June 22. It’s their first regular gathering since European Parliament elections last month that brought a surge in support for environmentalist parties.

“As the effects of climate change become more visible and pervasive, we urgently need to step up our action to manage this existential threat,” according to a draft of the statement that the leaders plan to sign at the meeting. “The EU can and must lead the way, by engaging in an in-depth transformation of its own economy and society to achieve climate neutrality. This will have to be conducted in a way that takes account of national circumstances and is socially just.”

The draft won’t include a new political mandate necessary for the EU’s regulatory arm to start drafting legislation on new goals or tightening the existing ones. While the U.K. government this week pledged laws enforcing net-zero emissions by 2050, that goal pushed by the European Commission has divided EU governments.

Instead, the commission’s blueprint is aimed at showing how determined the bloc is to honor the Paris climate accord’s targets, even in the face of President Donald Trump’s decision to take the U.S. out of the 2015 agreement signed by almost all other countries.

The bloc’s 28 member states haven’t managed to narrow down differences over the long-term net-zero emissions goal since they started talks about it earlier this year. The sticking points include the pace of emissions cuts and the energy sources and technologies to rely upon, as well as the means and ways of preserving jobs and competitiveness.

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