European Union leaders reached a hard-fought deal Friday to cut the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by the end of the decade compared with 1990 levels, avoiding a hugely embarrassing deadlock ahead of a U.N. climate meeting this weekend.
Following night-long discussions at their two-day summit in Brussels, the 27 member states approved the EU executive commission’s proposal to toughen the bloc’s intermediate target on the way to climate neutrality by mid-century, after a group of reluctant, coal-reliant countries finally agreed to support the improved goal.
“Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change,” tweeted EU Council president Charles Michel as daylight broke over the EU capital city. “We decided to cut our greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030.”
Five years after the Paris agreement, the EU wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming. Yet the bloc’s heads of state and government were unable to agree on the new target the last time they met in October, mainly because of financial concerns by eastern nations seeking more clarity about how to fund and handle the green transition.
But the long-awaited deal on a massive long-term budget and coronavirus recovery clinched Thursday by EU leaders swung the momentum.
Large swaths of the record-high 1.82 trillion-euro package are set to pour into programs and investments designed to help the member states, regions and sectors particularly affected by the green transition, which are in need of a deep economic and social transformation. EU leaders have agreed that 30% of the package should be used to support the transition.
Still, agreeing on common language was not an easy task. Negotiations were punctuated throughout the night by intense discussions in the plenary session and chats in smaller groups on the sidelines.