The EU states could not agree on the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 at the summit in Brussels. The 28 heads of state and government agreed Thursday evening in two jointly adopted texts only in principle to the project, even if the majority spoke out in favor of the deadline.
Climate change is an existential threat, according to the “Strategic Agenda” of the Heads of State and Government for the next five years, which includes other important policy areas in addition to climate policy. The EU must now initiate a profound change in their economy and society in order to achieve climate neutrality.
A summit declaration, which was adopted at the same time, deals with more concrete steps. The specialized ministers and the EU Commission should work to “make a transition to a climate-neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement”. Here, in a draft, the deadline was 2050. In the final version, a footnote was inserted instead, which states that it applies to a large majority of Member States. According to diplomats, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary opposed the deadline, Estonia also had reservations.
Climate neutrality means that gases that are no longer harmful to the climate are released as, being taken up and bound by forests or storage at the same time. The emissions from industry, traffic, agriculture and buildings would therefore have to be massively reduced.
German chancellor Angela Merkel stressed during the night that a large majority of the member states for 2050, that all states wanted to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement and the already agreed climate targets for 2030 represent. Thus, there is a “very good starting position” to be able to “pioneer for international climate protection”.
The Greens parliamentary leader in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, however, spoke of a “shame”. “The leaders once again ignored the urgency and endangered the future of us all,” she said. Greenpeace had called on the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2040, prior to the summit, which was designed primarily to fill the EU’s top posts. In November 2018, the European Commission presented a strategy for climate neutrality for the EU by 2050. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also demands that the world community commit themselves to the goal.
The failure of EU leaders to commit to climate neutrality by 2050 has been met with severe criticism from environmental activists. They accused the EU on Friday of failing to respond adequately to people’s concerns about climate change. German environment minister Svenja Schulze demanded that the concrete measures should now be taken to achieve the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.
“The main concern of the people in the EU is the climate crisis and the question of how to contain them,” said Christoph Bals of the Germanwatch development and environmental organization. Although the EU leaders had responded by making climate change a major task. “But they failed at the first test for this emphasis.”
The environmental organization WWF also sharply criticized the failure of the 2050 target: 24 Member States were in favor of this and had “allowed their resolve to be watered down by only three blockers – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary” Aiming at climate leadership “and” abandoning all the people who have massively supported climate action in recent months “.
Schulze stated on Friday that she regretted “very much that the required unanimity could not yet be achieved”. It is now important to “engage in a substantive and fair dialogue with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic”. “We will now focus on how we can achieve the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050,” said Schulze. Twenty-four EU Member States have already agreed.