EU told to cut carbon output

EU told to cut carbon output

A Polish coal-fired power plant. Source: Wikimedia

Germany, France and Britain have urged a meeting of environment ministers to make the European Union adopt more ambitious greenhouse-gas targets, taking on the EU executive and members from eastern and central Europe.

The major EU powers criticised a draft text that said the bloc did not need to increase its targets until the next decade as it tried to agree how to share out the burden of reaching the targets among its 28 members.

So far, members agreed to cut emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 from the 1990 levels and to a first global stock-take in 2023.

Germany environment minister Jochen Flasbarth called the European Commission’s text “weak on the 2030 objectives”, noting references to “at least” had disappeared.

In a split council, ministers backed him from France, Britain, Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Sweden in demanding the EU to set a global example with stronger targets.

The Paris pact late last year set a tougher global goal than many observers expected, to hold temperature rise this century “well below” 2C and aim for 1.5C”.

But Germany’s Jochen Flasbarth, describing the communication as “very weak” on that point.

Several nations called for an earlier stock-take to ahead of a UN report in 2018 to get on track for net zero emissions in the second half of the century.

Ségolène Royal, France’s environment minister and president of the climate talks, urged swift ratification.

France is hoping to start its national process before a UN signing ceremony in New York in April and complete the formalities this summer.

She said: “We have to ensure that we are very much at the forefront of low carbon economies.”

Poland, however, which is reliant on coal, and other former communist states, said the EU should not increase its climate goals too soon or ahead of other nations.

Hungary, Lithuania and Italy said it was already hard to achieve.

“This is not a time for divisive issues such as raising ambition,” said Italy’s Gian Luca Galletti.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the debate. “There is a wide gap between our current climate action plans and what needs to be done to avoid a climate disaster,” said Wendel Trio, head of Climate Action Network Europe.

EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete welcomed the dissent but warned that not all member states were on board for new European targets.

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