Merkel To Kill Ambitious EU Climate Plan
The theatrics of the Brexit crisis are making this week’s European Council summit in Brussels look like 27 against one.
But in other business, the European Union is often a story of 15 versus 13.
That is the Western countries who joined the union before 2004, and the Eastern countries who joined after.
Tomorrow, the 28 leaders of EU countries are set to adopt a new strategy on action to combat climate change.
In light of the student protests spreading across Europe and the world, many leaders in the West had wanted to strengthen the strategy. But this has been fiercely resisted by Eastern European countries led by Poland.
According to a leaked draft of the strategy, Poland is blocking an idea for the EU to commit to climate neutrality by 2050. It is being backed by its usual Eastern allies such as Hungary and the Czech Republic. But Warsaw has found a new ally against climate action which will likely see it win the battle tomorrow – Berlin.
Germany has broken ranks with other Western countries such as France, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands who support a call by the European Commission to meet the 2050 goal. The Commission put forward the plan last year.
The objecting countries, including Germany and Poland, are blocking any language in the strategy that would set a specific date for decarbonization.
Germany’s support or non-support for the 2050 plan will be decisive. It will be Angela Merkel who decides tomorrow whether the European Union heeds the calls of the young people marching on the streets of Brussels and Berlin, or whether it ignores them.
UPDATE: The EU has just released its summit statement which does not include any 2050 climate commitment or target in what is a big win for Eastern European governments and their new German ally:
The European Council:
– reiterates its commitment to the Paris Agreement and recognizes the need to step up the global efforts to tackle climate change in light of the latest available science, especially the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels;
– emphasizes the importance of the EU submitting an ambitious long-term strategy by 2020 striving for climate neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement, while taking into account Member States’ specificities and the competitiveness of European industry;
– calls for the timely finalization of the national long-term strategies;
– recognizes that the implementation of the Paris Agreement objective offers significant opportunities and potential for economic growth, new jobs, and technological development and for strengthening European competitiveness, which must be reaped while ensuring a just and socially balanced transition for all;
– calls on the Council to intensify its work on a long-term climate strategy ahead of a further discussion in the European Council in June 2019
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