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The heads of state and government of the European Union have agreed on a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The previous goal was a reduction of at least 40% by 2030.
European Council President Charles Michel confirmed the news on Friday morning via Twitter, describing Europe as “a leader in the fight against climate change”. The new goal was achieved at a summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, said the goal “puts us on a clear path towards climate neutrality in 2050.”
The EU will approve the 55% target before a climate summit this weekend, which is being organized by the United Nations, Great Britain and France in cooperation with Italy and Chile.
Last week the UK government announced that it would aim to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Great Britain left the EU in January 2020.
The EU’s revised 2030 target now requires the green light from the European Parliament, a directly elected legislative body that has called for a 60% reduction in emissions by the end of this decade.
Work to do?
Jytte Guteland, MEP and rapporteur of the European Parliament on the European climate law responded to the news.
“It is important not to be fooled that a net target of 55 percent is sufficient,” Guteland said on Friday via Twitter. “I have a strong mandate from the elected representatives in the European Parliament to push for more climate change. I intend to do so when we meet and negotiate.”
Elsewhere, Greenpeace’s European entity said the deal had “shown a reluctance on the part of governments to follow science and tackle the root causes of the climate emergency.”
Sebastian Mang, Greenpeace EU’s climate policy advisor, said the evidence showed that the deal “is just a small improvement on the emissions reductions the EU is already expected to achieve”.
“It shows that political convenience takes precedence over climate science and that most politicians are still afraid of taking on major polluters,” he added.
Colin Roche, Climate Justice Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe, said the new goal was “still a long way from the victory the climate needs”.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a landmark agreement aimed at keeping global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and making efforts “To limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Our heads of state and government must go further to deliver Europe’s fair share of global measures to reduce carbon emissions and to fulfill the agreement they made in Paris five years ago,” said Roche of Friends of the Earth Europe.
“If this new target is to make sense, planned new EU infrastructure spending must now turn off all fossil fuels.”