Climate Crisis

EU agreement on climate law to make Europe the world's first emission-free continent

Poland finally unlocks pact to cut emissions by 55% by 2030

2 min
An industrial zone in the Polish city of Laziska Górne.

Brussels / BarcelonaEarly morning agreement. European lawmakers agreed on Wednesday, after 5 a.m., the climate law that sets out commitments to reduce emissions by "at least" 55% by 2030, compared to 1990, and with the major milestone of making Europe the first emission-neutral continent by 2050.

The road to this point has been complicated. Last December the leaders of the European Union managed at a summit to seal the political agreement to move towards drafting this law after managing to convince Poland, but it had been more than a year since it was attempted. In fact, the European climate law had been presented twelve months ago without defining the emissions cut target due to lack of consensus. Poland decided to jump on the bandwagon after getting assurances that it would receive sufficient European funds to carry out the climate transition.

"This is a landmark moment for the EU and a strong signal to the world: our commitment to an emission-neutral Europe will guide our policies for the next 30 years. And this is positive news to share ahead of Earth Day. It's a good day for people and for the planet", tweeted Vice-President in charge of climate emergency Frans Timmermans in the early hours of the morning.

It is fair to say, however, that one of the negotiating parties and NGOs were asking for more. The European Parliament demanded a 60% cut in emissions by 2030, and the NGOs went even further, demanding 65% to show the world Europe's leadership in the climate fight.

Other parts of the agreement reached on Wednesday involve setting up a European scientific advisory committee on climate change, with 15 senior scientific experts of different nationalities, which will be responsible for scientifically advising the EU on its measures to meet the commitments. They have also agreed that Brussels should propose an intermediate climate target for 2040. Finally, it includes an "aspirational target" for the EU to strive for negative emissions from 2050 onwards. One last final green light is missing, but this late-night deal is intended to send a global message ahead of Thursday's virtual climate summit convened by US President Joe Biden.