Environment groups say EU’s planned climate law means a lost decade

FILE PHOTO: A man demonstrates as Greenpeace stages a climate protest at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, Netherlands December 14, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

Environmental groups said on Monday that a decade could be lost in Brussels’ plan to combat change because its planned “climate law”, which could tighten emission targets for member states every five years, would not kick in until 2030.

The European Commission will propose a regulation on Wednesday containing its “Green Deal” plan for the European Union to reduce its net emissions to zero by 2050.

According to a draft seen by the Financial Times, it would give the bloc’s executive power to set new interim targets for EU countries every five years, starting from 2030.

Environmental groups said the plan makes the EU’s long-term climate goal legally binding was a step in the right direction, but that 2035 was too late as the first date when new interim targets could be set.

FILE PHOTO: A Greenpeace ice sculpture of penguins is seen during a protest by students against climate change in central Brussels, Belgium February 7, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

A Commission spokeswoman declined to comment on the proposal – which will need the approval of member states and the European Parliament – before it is unveiled on Wednesday.

The United Nations says global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by an average of 7.6% each year from now until 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) – the level that scientists say would avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The European Commission wants to toughen the EU’s 2030 climate target this year, to mandate a 50% or 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, rather than the current minimum of 40%.

All EU countries except Poland have agreed to the EU’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. But some states say a tougher 2030 goal is unrealistic, given the technological and economic overhaul that would be needed to drive bigger cuts in the next decade.