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Source: Council of the European Union 2

A climate neutral EU – what does it mean?

The Council reached agreement on a general approach on the proposal for a European climate law, including a new EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990, following the guidance of the European Council given on 10-11 December 2020. The main aim of the European climate law is to set into legislation the objective of a climate neutral EU by 2050.

Today we reached an important milestone as regards the proposal for a European climate law. The EU is strongly committed to becoming climate neutral by 2050 and we are sending a strong signal to the world with our reinforced greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55 % by 2030.

Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany

The general approach reached today completes the partial negotiating position agreed by the Council on 23 October 2020 and provides the Council Presidency with a mandate for further discussions with the European Parliament on the Commission proposal.

Background and next steps

The European Council, in its conclusions of 12 December 2019, agreed on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, while also recognising that it is necessary to put in place an enabling framework that benefits all member states and encompasses adequate instruments, incentives, support and investments to ensure a cost-efficient, just, as well as socially balanced and fair transition, taking into account different national circumstances in terms of starting points.

On 4 March 2020, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a European climate law, as an important part of the European Green Deal. On 17 September 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal amending its initial proposal to include a revised EU emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030. The Commission also published a communication on the 2030 climate target plan, accompanied by a comprehensive impact assessment.

Discussions on the proposal started during the Croatian Presidency and have continued under the German Presidency, including more recently on the amended proposal. The Council adopted a partial general approach on 23 October, which did not yet include the Council’s position on the level of the 2030 target.

On 10-11 December the European Council in its conclusions, endorsed an increased EU target of at least 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and gave guidance on its implementation.

Before the Regulation on a European climate law can be finally adopted, the Council, represented by its Presidency, and the European Parliament need to reach a political agreement on the proposal.

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