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By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union clinched a deal in the early hours of Wednesday on a landmark law to make its climate-change goals legally binding, including a target to slash its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% this decade.
The deal arrives just in time for a summit of world leaders hosted by the U.S. government on Thursday and Friday, where the EU and other global powers will promote their pledges to protect the planet.
The European climate law sets the framework that will guide EU climate-related regulations in the coming decades, steering it towards reaching zero net emissions by 2050 – a pathway which, if adopted globally, would limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
More than a year after the European Commission proposed the bill, negotiators representing the European Parliament and the 27 EU governments finally finished its contents on Wednesday, after all-night talks.
The target to cut EU-wide net emissions by at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels, replaces a previous goal for a 40% cut. By 2019, EU emissions were already 24% lower than in 1990.
EU lawmakers had wanted to go further to 60% by 2030. Environmental campaigners had said the cut should be 65%.
Negotiators agreed to limit the amount of emissions removals that can be counted towards the 2030 target, to 225 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
That aims to ensure the goal is met by cutting emissions from polluting sectors, rather than relying on removing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon-absorbing forests and wetlands.
“This is a landmark moment for the EU. 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,” Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said in a statement.
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