To curb climate change and its catastrophic consequences, greenhouse gases must fall. The EU countries are struggling to do their best.

Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to fall by at least 55 percent below 1990 levels. This was decided on Friday morning at the EU summit in Brussels, as Council President Charles Michel announced. So far, the target has been minus 40 percent. The decision was only made after discussions during the night. Several EU countries wanted pledges of financial aid for the energy transition. According to diplomats, Poland ended up blocking the summit resolution for hours because it wanted further guarantees.

The tightening is intended to help implement the Paris climate agreement and curb dangerous global warming. The new target must be reported to the United Nations before the end of the year.

Merkel promoted the 55 percent target

It is a step towards making the EU climate neutral by 2050, i.e. avoiding or storing all greenhouse gases. What is needed include a rapid switch from coal, oil and gas, a rapid switch to green electricity and zero-emission vehicles, and the renovation of millions of homes. That means billions in investments. But proponents also see opportunities for new jobs and prosperity in the restructuring of the economy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had promoted the new 55 percent target at the summit. French President Emmanuel Macron also campaigned for it. “We need to increase our commitments to 2030,” Macron said. “That is expected of Europe.” However, there were concerns in some countries. Some eastern EU countries are heavily dependent on coal and have a long way to go in the energy transition. They pushed for financial support.

Billions of pots have been planned for this: a modernization fund that is fed with income from emissions trading; a fund for just change, but also the 750 billion corona development fund, of which at least 30 percent must be used to achieve the climate goals. The budget package was recently blocked due to a veto by Hungary and Poland. An agreement in the budget dispute also paved the way for the climate decision at the summit.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement stipulates that global warming will be stopped below two degrees, if possible even at 1.5 degrees, measured in relation to the pre-industrial period. However, the pledges made so far by around 190 Member States are not sufficient. Therefore, the contract provides for improvements to be made every five years.

Environmentalists criticize agreement

The EU decision does not go far enough for the environmental organization Greenpeace. “To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees with a high probability, 65 percent less greenhouse gases would be needed in the EU,” said German boss Martin Kaiser of the German press. Agency. In addition, the EU considers the new climate target worthwhile, as it includes for the first time greenhouse gases stored in forests and other “wells”.

Green politician Sven Giegold also criticized the fact that EU states only set themselves ‘collectively’ the new goal, but not national climate goals.

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