EU strikes breakthrough deal for climate law on eve of global summit

·2-min read

The European Union has reached a breakthrough deal for a climate law to reduce emissions by “at least 55 percent” before the end of the decade – a figure that will be presented to world leaders at a US-led climate summit starting Thursday.

The agreement, struck on Wednesday following marathon talks in parliament, sets the bloc on the path to its target of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

To achieve this, the EU and its 27 members are working to overhaul the transport, construction and energy sectors, and reform European carbon market rules, via a so-called “green deal” that brings together a trillion euros of public and private money.

"This is a landmark moment for the EU,” said Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans in a statement. “We have reached an ambitious agreement to write our climate neutrality target into binding legislation, as a guide to our policies for the next 30 years.”

Council of experts

The law, which still needs to be rubber-stamped by parliament and national governments, requires Brussels to create an independent advisory body of 15 climate science experts to help steer climate action.

It also requires the EU to calculate an emissions budget to determine the level of greenhouse gases it may emit between 2030 and 2050 while staying on target.

Scientists say the world’s largest polluters must be carbon neutral by the middle of the century in order to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. More drastic action would be required to meet the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees.

European leaders will join those of the US, China, India and dozens of other countries in a virtual summit Thursday during which President Joe Biden is expected to announce his country’s plans to cut emissions in half by 2030.

The two-day event comes amid renewed climate dialogue between Beijing and Washington that aims to drive momentum going into November’s UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.