New EU Parliament less supportive of green agenda, documents show

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The next European Commission will no longer be able to rely on a broad consensus among lawmakers in support of ambitious climate change policies, with lawmakers split over whether to scrap or strengthen green measures, draft documents showed.

Following European Union elections last month, incoming lawmakers are discussing their policy priorities for the EU Parliament's next five-year term.

Drafts of those priorities, reviewed by Reuters, show some of the biggest lawmaker groups intend to block new climate policies or roll back some existing ones.

Both the centre-right European People's Party, the biggest lawmaker group, and the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the fourth-biggest, want to revise the EU's 2035 ban on sales of new combustion engine cars, the drafts showed.

"The ECR will push for the ban to be scrapped," the group's draft priorities said.

The ECR will also challenge an expected European Commission proposal to commit the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2040 from 1990 levels.

"Amid unprecedented global challenges, escalating energy prices and rising carbon costs, we are concerned about the timing of this ambitious climate target," the document said.

The EPP's draft document did not mention the 2040 goal. It said the group supports the EU's existing emissions targets, but other green policies should be delayed - including an upcoming ban on imported goods linked to deforestation.

Together, the EPP and ECR hold 266 of the 720 lawmakers in the EU Parliament. Calls to reverse climate policies are likely to also find support from the newly-formed far-right Patriots for Europe alliance of 84 lawmakers.

However, the Socialists and Democrats - the Parliament's second-biggest group, with 136 lawmakers - is against weakening climate policies, and wants an ambitious 2040 climate target, a draft of its priorities showed.

That stance is backed by the liberal Renew group and the Greens - representing a combined 129 lawmakers.

"We expect the Commission to commit to continue the Green Deal ... without backtracking," a draft of Renew's priorities said.

The split poses a headache for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is attempting to secure support from a majority of EU lawmakers in a vote next week, to win a second term in her role.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by David Holmes)