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EU climate credibility rescued in tight Parliamentary vote

The European Parliament voted to increase the EU 2030 target for carbon emissions reduction to 60% today, moving closer to science and away from politics. But this still falls short of what is necessary to fight the climate crisis. 

Today, MEPs approved a 60% emissions reduction target to be achieved by 2030 as part of Europe’s first Climate Law. [1]

This represents a significant increase from the 55% proposed by the European Commission on 17 September, and it’s in line with a previous vote by the Parliament’s environment (ENVI) committee. [2] However, it’s still considerably lower than the 65% target proposed by MEP Jytte Guteland and supported by scientific evidence and civil society organisations.

The vote comes after a dramatic week where conservative parties vowed to back the less ambitious target proposed by the Commission, raising concerns that the Parliament may eventually undermine climate action.

In another positive note, the Parliament also voted against counting international carbon offsets towards the final target. This would have allowed the EU to consider the contribution of environmental projects such as tree planting in developing countries as a  way of reaching its own climate goals. Green groups dismissed the plan as nothing short of an accounting trick, and welcomed the final vote.

The European Parliament is expected to formally confirm the outcome of the vote tomorrow. EU heads of state will meet in the European Council next week to discuss the target, with a view to reaching a final position in December before starting the three-way discussions with the Parliament and the Commission.

Barbara Mariani, senior policy officer for climate and energy with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

Today’s vote represents a beacon of hope for millions of young Europeans who have demanded their right to live in a healthy and safe planet. It’s still not enough, as science reminds us that a 65% target to be achieved by 2030 is not only necessary, but also feasible.

If we enable it, increased climate action will help Europe create more and better jobs while making our industry and economy more resilient. We urge EU governments to listen to science and ensure much more ambition on the EU target.

In December, the European Commission promised to deliver an unprecedented set of measures to boost climate action. The Climate Law is a cornerstone of the European Green Deal and was previously hailed as Europe’s “man on the moon moment.”

Notes for editors

[1] https://twitter.com/EP_Environment/status/1313739442516119552
[2] https://eeb.org/eu-climate-law-still-needs-more-ambitious-emissions-targets/

NGO position on the Climate Law: https://eeb.org/library/eu-2030-climate-target-ngo-views-on-european-commissions-proposal/