December 2, 2019 / 10:13 PM / 3 days ago

EU leaders to push for climate neutrality by 2050 - document

FILE PHOTO: Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, at night near Belchatow, Poland December 5, 2018. Picture taken December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders meeting in Brussels next week will push to agree to put the bloc on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, their draft joint statement showed on Monday, heralding a bitter fight looming at their gathering.

The Dec. 12-13 summit of the bloc’s national leaders will aim to endorse “the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050”, according to the document seen by Reuters.

Previous attempts, however, were blocked by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, who rely on highly polluting coal. They have previously said they oppose climate neutrality by 2050 for fear cutting greenhouse emissions will stifle their economies.

To convince the reluctant camp, the draft summit conclusions refer to “just and socially balanced transition”, the European Investment Bank’s announcement to unlock 1 trillion euros worth of green investment until 2030, the need to ensure energy security and competitiveness vis-à-vis foreign powers not pursuing such climate goals.

The draft, prepared in advance of the leaders’ discussions, may still change. But it will eventually need unanimous backing of all EU national leaders for there to be agreement at the summit.

The bloc’s new executive European Commission also aims to push for climate neutrality by mid-century and wants to make the EU’s 2030 climate targets more ambitious.

Current targets envisage cutting the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The new Commission, led by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, hopes to raise the goal to at least 50%.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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