EU to cut greenhouse emissions 55% by 2030

The EU's top official proposed a new target on Wednesday for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, setting a reduction goal of at least 55 percent by 2030.
EU to cut greenhouse emissions 55% by 2030

The President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen addresses her first state of the union speech during a plenary session at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.

The European Union’s top official proposed a more ambitious target on Wednesday for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, setting a reduction goal of at least 55 percent by 2030 compared with the current target of 40 percent.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen predicted the new target will be “too much for some and not enough for others,” but she told lawmakers in her first State of the Union address that it should help the 27-member bloc achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

“Our economy and industry can manage this, and they want it, too,” von der Leyen said as she set out her priorities in the European Parliament.

EU leaders agreed last year to make the bloc’s economy carbon-neutral by the middle of the century.

Von der Leyen said she wants 37 percent of the 750-billion-euro (US$826 billion) coronavirus recovery fund approved by EU countries to be spent on environmental objectives, adding that 30 percent of the fund should be raised through “green bonds” whose proceeds are meant to have a positive impact on the environment.

The EU also proposed a strategic plan to dedicate a quarter of its budget to tackling climate change and to work to shift 1 trillion euros in investment toward making the EU’s economy more environmentally friendly over the next 10 years.

According to the EU, its greenhouse gas emissions already decreased by 23 percent between 1990 and 2018, when the economy grew 61 percent.

World leaders agreed five years ago in Paris to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Scientists say countries will miss both of those goals by a wide margin unless drastic steps are taken to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Von der Leyen also confirmed the EU is working on a kind of carbon tax aimed at avoiding a situation in which EU countries reduce emissions, but at the same time import goods embedded with CO2.

“Carbon must have its price because nature cannot pay this price anymore,” she said.

While endorsing the idea of a “carbon border adjustment mechanism,” at EU borders, Green members of the European Parliament said the proposed 55 percent cut to emissions was not enough, pushing for a 65 percent reduction.

“Droughts & global fires show that we need more effort to limit #GlobalWarming,” the Greens group wrote in a message posted on Twitter.

Friends of the Earth was also urging the EU to opt for a fossil-free economy “to avoid devastating warming.”

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