EU leaders plan talks, but no deal, on climate change target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A summit of European Union leaders this week is not expected to yield a deal on a new climate target, according to draft documents and EU officials, likely pushing to December a decision on how deeply the bloc will cut emissions this decade.

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The meeting of the leaders of the 27 EU countries in Brussels on Thursday and Friday will be their first talks on a plan to upgrade the EU’s 2030 climate goal.

The EU’s executive, the European Commission, wants to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% this decade from 1990 levels, to steer the bloc towards climate neutrality by 2050. The 2030 target now is a 40% cut.

To fix the target in law, EU countries must agree a common position, then reach a deal with the European Parliament, which wants an even more ambitious goal.

Draft conclusions for the summit, seen by Reuters, do not include a specific 2030 target. EU leaders will “return to the issue” at a December summit to seek agreement on the goal by year-end, the draft said.

Draft conclusions for a meeting next week of EU environment ministers, who hold parallel talks on the issue, also do not include a specific 2030 target.

The EU is hurrying to meet a deadline for countries to upgrade their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement this year. Dragging a decision on the target into 2021 could also disrupt a wave of EU emissions-cutting policies due next summer.

But EU countries, which take decisions by unanimity, remain split.

A group of 11 countries - among them, France, Estonia, Spain and Denmark - on Wednesday published a joint letter calling for an EU emissions-cutting target of at least 55%.

Others, concerned by the huge economic transformation required, appear unwilling to budge before December.

“The October European Council is the right moment to establish a process before reaching a final decision on the 2030 target in December meeting,” a Polish official said.

Poland, which generates more than 70% of its power from coal, has requested an analysis of how the goal would impact individual countries.

“That is impossible ... If this is the condition to get an agreement, there will be no agreement,” said German State Secretary for environment Jochen Flasbarth. He said countries could discuss funding and support for carbon-intensive states.

Reporting by Kate Abnett and Gabriela Baczynska.; Editing by John Chalmers,Peter Graff and Alison Williams