Despite there been more Green MEP’s in the european parliament than at any time the EU roll back on its promise climate neutral by 2050
Three central and eastern European countries blocked a new EU climate change target on Thursday night, undermining global action to cut carbon emissions.
EU leaders had hoped to commit all the union’s member states to going carbon neutral by 2050 at a summit in Brussels, but in the end only 25 out of 28 countries were on-board.
Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic all refused to support writing the target into the EU’s strategic programme for 2019-24. The plan was supported by Brussels and had gathered significant momentum in recent weeks.
A planned reference to the 2050 target to reduce emissions to net zero was removed from the summit’s draft conclusions following the meeting. Instead, a footnote was added, with an explanation that “for a large majority of member states, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050”.
The conclusions adopted by leaders called on the Commission and Council to carry out further work to ensure a transition to a “climate neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement.”
A mention of the 2050 aim, which appeared in earlier versions of the text, was struck out after being blocked. However, a footnote states that a majority of EU countries back the mid-century target.
Warsaw doesn’t want to commit to the goal without a burden-sharing mechanism to balance out potentially adverse effects on the economy, according to one EU diplomat in the room. Poland’s position is shared by the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said upon arriving at the summit that Poland would not agree to toughening the EU’s climate objectives unless it received enough compensation.
“We [first] need to get very concrete conditions on potential compensation mechanisms … A wording on just and responsible energy transformation is not enough for us,” Morawiecki said.
The next step for EU leaders will be to agree on a package that can convince the last holdouts to get on board with the mid-century goal. As another EU diplomat put it: “The Poles like their pork well matured.”
In a statement, Ska Keller, the co-president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, said that in failing to unanimously agree on the 2050 target, EU leaders had “ignored the urgency once more and put at risk the future of all of us.”
Every day, people suffer from the climate crisis,” she said, adding: “Thousands of people have been going to the streets to protest for climate action and a lot voted for climate protection in the European elections.
Embarrassingly, Poland – one of the hold-out member states which blocked the target – hosted the last UN climate change, COP24, in November. That conference was held in Katowice, Poland’s coal capital – and was used as an opportunity by the country’s right-wing government to lobby in favour of coal and other fossil fuels.
Both Hungary and Poland have right-wing populist governments, while the Czech republic is led by a populist liberal-conservative outfit.
Climate change has soared up the European political agenda in recent months following widespread protests, including continent-wide school strikes and actions by the Extinction Rebellion group. Green parties also make significant gains at the European elections at the end of May.