[LIVE] MEP negotiators welcome ‘historic’ climate agreement, but say they wanted more

The European Parliament’s negotiators on the EU’s newly-struck climate agreement, which they believe will see the EU take the global lead in battling climate change, say they wanted more reductions out of negotiations but their hands were tied

The European Parliament’s negotiators on the EU’s new climate agreement this morning welcomed what they labelled a “historic, game-changing” accord struck in the early hours of the morning, after 14 hours of gruelling tri-partite negotiations.

They have, however, bemoaned the fact that that they had wanted to go further than the resulting 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2030.

With the agreement, the EU’s pledge to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 will now become a legally-binding commitment.

The deal will see the EU commit to an intermediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions target of “at least 55 per cent” over 1990 levels.. And it was that ‘at least 55 per cent’ pre-existing text that had apparently proved to be the main sticking point during negotiations.

Rapporteur Jytte Guteland and Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Chair on EU Climate Law Pascal Canfin both stressed how Parliament had wanted more out of the reduction target and both appeared somewhat exasperated, and somewhat worse for wear, following a night of intense negotiations.

The EU’s 2030 target had originally provided for a 40 per cent 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction, but that had been raised to 55 per cent following recent public pressure on climate change.

Parliament, however, had been aiming for a 60 per cent target.

Speaking this morning, Canfin said negotiators had been bound by the 55 per cent limitation since it had been impossible to formally change the mandate received from the Council and as such, there had been “no space to change the ‘55 per cent’ wording.

“As Parliament,” he said, “we could not accept that, as it was simply not enough. But there was this political deal to not formally touch the 55% net figure.  It was technical and complicated, and it took all night.”

The eventual deal, Canfin told a press conference, was to work “within the ‘at least 55%’ wording, but at the same time work out a way, when calculating the net, to be able to move from 55 to ‘close to 57%’ as we are saying”.

Guteland, meanwhile, confirmed that Parliament had been seeking a higher reduction target than that achieved in the end, but said she feels “we have secured a deal that will not have loopholes allowing for lower reduction targets, and we have actually increased those targets over the Commission’s proposal”.

US President Joe Biden is about to unveil a massive climate plan at a virtual summit of 40 world leaders this week, leading to questions, considering the timing of the announcement, on whether the EU was engaging in a one-upmanship battle with the US on taking the global lead on climate change.

According to Guteland, the EU is more than ready and willing for the challenge.

“We are confident that we are taking the global lead in tackling climate change.  We have done our utmost and this law will only grow from strength to strength.  We are not only doing what we said we would a year ago, but we are improving on it.

“The US is not our Big Brother when it comes to climate change.  We are the Big Brother, or the Big Sister, on this and the US will mow need to deliver when they see what we have done.  There is no doubt about that.

“The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than we have in the previous three decades put together, and we have new and more ambitious ground to stand on that can encourage more countries to step up.

“This is exactly the kind of leadership the world needs right now and we can do it.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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