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EU Lawmakers Deeply Divided Over New Climate Targets


EU lawmakers debate 65% climate target proposal

Guteland’s proposals include a climate target of 65% and the establishment of a European climate council similar to the UN’s IPCC, which is to develop proposals for a target path until 2050. [Foto: European Parliament]

The European Parliament’s environment committee discussed for the first time on Thursday (28 May) a proposal by Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland to set an EU-wide CO2 reduction target of 65% by 2030. 

Speaking by video conference, the Swedish MEP presented her report on the EU’s updated climate change target for 2030.

“We need to start now and move faster than the Commission’s proposal” which aims for a 50-55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Guteland told her colleagues.

The Swedish MEP referred to the UN’s emissions gap report for 2019 published in November, which highlighted the need to cut global emissions by 7.6% annually in order to meet the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement.

For the EU, this would mean a 65% reduction in CO2 by 2030.

Guteland’s report also includes other groundbreaking proposals:

  • Establishing a European climate council similar to the UN’s IPCC.
  • Fixing the EU’s climate goals based on the bloc’s remaining CO2 budget.
  • Including the shipping sector in the EU carbon trading scheme and cutting free CO2 pollution credits for airlines.

The European Parliament is gearing up for tough talks on the EU’s climate target for 2030, with a 65% emissions cut now firmly on the table.

MEPs divided over 65% target

Although Guteland is from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, EU Parliament sources told EURACTIV that her proposal had not been discussed previously within her own group and even came as a surprise.

The Swedish MEP nevertheless received broad support from her own ranks and from the left.

“If we want to comply with the Paris Agreement as we signed it, we have to aim higher in our objectives,” said Sylvia Modig, a Finnish MEP from the leftist GUE/NGL group who backed Guteland on all points. Her political group would “not be prepared to compromise on the Paris climate targets,” she told MEPs.

Right-wing and conservatives lawmakers struck a wholly different tone, however.

Sylvia Limmer, a German MEP from the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), highlighted the economic costs of hiking the EU’s climate ambitions. According to the European Commission, achieving the current 40% target would require annual investments of €260 billion, a figure that reaches €620 billion with a 55% goal, she pointed out.

The promise that the Green Deal would create prosperity for all is “nonsense”, Limmer said. “You have to be able to afford environmental protection,” she insisted.

The centrist Renew Europe group was positive yet reserved towards Guteland’s proposal.

Last year, political parties in the European Parliament backed a 55% target for 2030, reminded  German centrist MEP Andreas Glück, from the Free Democratic Party (FDP). “We risk being considered unreliable vis-à-vis the EU Council and the Commission if we now raise this target again,” he warned.

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