EU leaders are set for a showdown on climate change at a summit in Brussels on Thursday, that could see the entire bloc adopt a target of going carbon neutral by 2050.
Officials say the “overwhelming majority” of member states – thought to be at least 22 out of 28 countries – have now agreed to the climate change plan in behind the scenes talks ahead of the meeting.
Just a few hold-outs, all member states in central and eastern Europe, were still against the proposal ahead of the the European Council meeting in Brussels.
On senior EU official said that “the mood is changing on the Council”, adding: “At this stage we are talking about the overwhelming of member states that would be ready to accept the objective.
“There is still no unanimity, and I think this will be the issue for this working session on first day afternoon.”
The official added that “a lot has changed since March” when the proposal only got a lukewarm reception from leaders, and that “member states you would never suspect” were also on-board with the proposal.
Momentum has built for the plan since the last European Council meeting earlier in the year, when just eight countries supported the move.
Theresa May committed the UK to the 2050 target last week, claiming Britain would become the first G7 country to legislate for the target.
The policy would be significant in the fight against climate change because it would represent climate action by the world’s second largest economy. Some countries have already pledged to go further, with Finland’s new government adopting a 2035 goal, and Labour proposing a 2030 goal for the UK.
The changing political atmosphere comes after Europe-wide school strikes against climate change, protests by groups like Extinction Rebellion, and a surge in support for Green parties at the European elections.
The policy would be included in the EU’s strategic agenda, which is drawn up every five years with each change of Commission and round of European Parliament elections.