EU environment ministers meet to seek deal on climate law


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union environment ministers meet in Luxembourg on Friday to seek a deal on a landmark climate change law, but they will leave a decision on a 2030 emissions-cutting target for leaders to discuss in December.

The climate law will form the basis for Europe’s plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions, which will reshape all sectors, from transport to heavy industry, and require hundreds of billions of euros in annual investments.

It will fix in law the EU target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and define the rules for how future EU climate targets are decided, if new scientific evidence requires more ambitious aims.

Ministers, who take decisions by majority, will seek a deal on these parts of the law on Friday.

A decision on the most politically sensitive part of the bill – a new 2030 emissions-cutting target for the EU – will be left for EU leaders to agree, unanimously, at a meeting in December.

The law will give Brussels “the legal possibility to act when those who make promises don’t deliver on the promises,” said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans at Friday’s meeting, which is taking place in person, despite much of the continent restricting gatherings as coronavirus infections surge anew.

The price of permits in the EU carbon market climbed by more than 5% on Friday in anticipation of the ministers’ deal. The EU’s climate targets are expected to tighten the supply of permits in the market.

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Ministers will discuss a draft proposal for the law, previously reported by Reuters, which would make the 2050 net zero emissions target an EU-wide goal, rather than a requirement for individual countries, potentially letting some have higher emissions if others make deeper cuts.

The European Parliament, which together with EU countries must agree the final law, wants to make the target binding on each country.

Ministers and Parliament also both want to scrap a plan, put forward by the European Commission, to allow the Commission to set new climate targets with limited input from EU countries and parliament.

 

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