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Infamous four: Decision on carbon neutral EU delayed by Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia

Four governments have delayed an essential decision for the EU to be climate neutral by 2050, leaving Europe empty handed at upcoming UN climate talks.

The EU was expected to formally agree on achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at a meeting of heads of state in the European Council yesterday.

The vast majority governments have now committed to supporting the target. But the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland refused to back the explicit inclusion of the 2050 deadline – a move the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) strongly denounced.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations with around 150 organisations in more than 30 countries.

Achieving net zero emissions requires the almost complete phase out of fossil fuels. The EU has committed to submitting its long-term strategy to the UN in September, as agreed under the Paris Agreement in 2016.

Roland Joebstl, an expert on climate action and clean energy with the EEB, said:

Yesterday’s decision brought shame on the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland for threatening the future for the next generations.  The clock is ticking and yet their feeble leaders act as if we had another planet to live on.

As things stand, Europe is still lacking a date for when it plans to become climate neutral. If the bloc can’t get its act together, other world economies will leave us behind and decide on the direction  of future climate talks.

The stall of the discussions also meant that governments failed to make progress on the revision of the EU budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which will set out how much money the EU should allocate to avert climate breakdown.

The Commission wants to increase the money available for climate neutral energy and business models from the current 20% to 25% of the new budget – that means from €206 billion in previous years to €320 billion for 2021-2027.

The European Parliament and NGOs have proposed respectively a 30% and 40% minimum spending and the exclusion of funds supporting fossil fuels. EU governments are expected to reach an agreement on this by the end of the year.

Commenting on the EU budget, Joebstl said:

Our lawmakers must redirect investments towards cleaner energy, transport, agriculture and business models. This means no more gifts to industries that are literally destroying the climate and killing people, and more investments in clean solutions as well as financial support for those regions that still rely on fossil fuels. No one must be left behind in the transition to a green economy.

For more information:

mauro.anastasio@eeb.org