EU countries reach agreement on climate pledge
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European Union countries have agreed to impose stricter climate rules aimed at slashing EU greenhouse gases by at least 55 per cent in 2030.
After more than 16 hours of negotiations, environment ministers from the European Union's 27 member states have reached an agreement on five laws from a broader package of measures aimed at ensuring a 2035 phase-out of new fossil-fuel car sales and providing financial support to shield poorer citizens from the costs of carbon dioxide emissions.
The new climate rules are expected to reduce EU carbon emissions by at least 55 per cent in 2030 compared with 1990 rather than by a previously agreed 40 per cent.
“The climate crisis and its consequences are clear, and so policy is unavoidable,” said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans.
Some of the core parts of the package presented were first proposed by the European Commission last summer, including a law requiring new cars sold in the EU to emit zero CO2 from 2035, which would effectively ban the sale of internal-combustion engine cars.
The ban on combustion-engine cars has already been backed by the European Parliament, making it likely that the other proposals will eventually become EU law after the last differences are ironed out with the bloc’s national governments.
“The Council is now ready to negotiate with the European Parliament on concluding the package, thereby placing the European Union more than ever in the vanguard of fighting climate change,” said French minister for the energy transition Agnes Pannier-Runacher.
In addition to the ban on internal combustion engines, EU ministers also backed a new EU carbon market to impose CO2 costs on polluting fuels used in transport and buildings, to be launched in 2027, and rallied behind reforms to the EU's carbon market, which forces industry and power plants to pay for the pollution they create.
Moreover, countries also accepted core elements of the Commission's proposal to reinforce the market to cut emissions 61 per cent by 2030, and extend it to cover shipping
Europe’s leading clean transport campaign group, Transport and Environment, added that the EU government’s agreement is “historic” as it “breaks the hold of the oil industry over transport”.
Although countries including Italy and Slovakia had been pushing for a delay in the phase-out, which would be pushed back to 2040, ministers eventually reached a compromise that kept the 2035 target and asked Brussels to assess in 2026 the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles and whether they could contribute to the goal, according to Reuters.
Lithuania was the only country to oppose the final agreements, having unsuccessfully sought a bigger fund alongside Poland, Latvia and others concerned the new CO2 market could increase citizens' energy bills.
However, despite the EU's commitment to drastically reducing transport emissions by 2050 – which account for 25 of the EU's total emissions – and promote electric cars, a report from the bloc’s external auditor showed last year that the bloc is lacking the appropriate charging stations.
With these measures, the EU further continues on its journey towards becoming carbon-neutral in 2050, setting an example to other major polluters, including the United States and China.
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