The European Union has stepped up efforts to tackle the climate crisis with new laws designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
The targets state the EU must reduce its net emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 from what they were in 1990, and by 2050, cut emissions to net zero.
Changes in land use and increases in forestry across Europe over the next decade will also create new carbon sinks, potentially allowing emissions to fall by up to 57 per cent, the European Commission said.
The historic deal approved by all EU countries — except Bulgaria which abstained — ensures that the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions targets are now legally binding.
A Bulgarian government spokesman said: “The final compromise does not reflect our national position sufficiently.” The abstention has left the nation’s future climate policy position uncertain.
Swedish politician Jytte Guteland, who drafted and delivered the law in the European Parliament said: “I am proud that we finally have a climate law. We confirmed a net emissions reductions target of at least 55 per cent, closer to 57 per cent by 2030 according to our agreement with the Commission.
She added: “I would have preferred to go even further, but this is a good deal based on science that will make a big difference. The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than it has in the previous three decades combined, and we have new and more ambitious targets that can inspire more countries to step up.”
The new law intends to put the climate crisis at the centre of all EU policy, a move that would avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change if mirrored globally. The EU intends to begin this widespread policy overhaul on 14 July, when it will attempt to reform multiple sectors. New regulations include an overhaul of the EU carbon market, stricter CO2 standards for new cars, and the introduction of an independent climate policy advisory body.
However, the new laws do not set out compulsory targets for individual countries, but instead apply to the EU as a whole, suggesting some nations may need to contribute more than others.
In comparison to the UK, the EU’s targets are slightly less ambitious in terms of emissions reductions. For example, the UK aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. However, the short-term target of reducing emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 gives the bloc five more years to take further action.
Nevertheless, this deal represents a broad agreement to reduce emissions among the 26 member states, potentially leading the way for other blocs and large nations to follow.
The UK, New Zealand, Hungary, Luxembourg and France are the only other countries which have previously enshrined their emissions reductions targets in law.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
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