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EU sets new climate change goals, including net-zero emissions by 2050

By
Don Johnson
Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. File Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE
"Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. File Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

April 21 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday agreed to a series of goals to mitigate climate change, including the bloc reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and pledged to make them legally binding.

The EU agreement pledges to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by the end of this decade, compared to 1990 levels. That target is lower than the 60% goal that European Parliament had previously adopted.

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The 2050 emissions target applies collectively for the entire European Union, as some individual members of the bloc will be allowed to reach that level later.

Member states and European Parliament agreed to the new law.

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EU negotiators also formed a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change that will include 15 senior scientific experts from across Europe. Each member will have a four-year term and the board will provide scientific advice and report on EU measures and climate targets.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was "delighted" by the deal.

"Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment," von der Leyen said in a statement. "The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation. It is our binding pledge to our children and grandchildren."

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João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Portuguese minister of environment and climate action, welcomed the new goals.

"The European climate law is 'the law of laws' that sets the frame for the EU's climate-related legislation for the 30 years to come," he said in a statement. "The EU is strongly committed to becoming climate neutral by 2050 and today we can be proud to have set in stone an ambitious climate goal that can get everyone's support."

The agreement will be submitted to the European Council and the European Parliament for final approval.

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The agreement came a day before U.S. President Joe Biden opens a two-day climate summit that will include dozens of world leaders. The United States is expected to announce an updated carbon emission reduction target at the summit.

Leaders from 40 countries have been invited to the virtual summit. The first day of the event lands on Earth Day.

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