EU compromise on 35% CO2 reduction in 2030
The EU member countries have finally reached an agreement on the reduction of CO2 emissions for cars: in 2030 this reduction has to be 35%, a compromise between the Commission’s proposal (30%) and the aim of the European Parliament (40%).
“After 13 hours of negotiations we are relieved to have reached an agreement”, said Elisabeth Koestinger, Austrian Minister for Environment, presiding the gathering of the 28 member countries in Luxembourg. Austria had presented a compromise (35% reduction for cars and 30% for vans, compared to 2021) and obtained 20 positive votes (on 28).
The proposal is now going back to the EU Parliament to get a final blessing.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has always opposed the 40% aim of the EU Parliament and has supported the Commission’s proposal of a 30% reduction. She wants to protect the very important German car industry, claiming that a higher reduction wouldn’t be technically feasible.
In her opposition, she was backed by a number of East European countries, which have an important car industry. Finally the Viennese compromise was also backed by France, which in the beginning was in favour of the 40% reduction.
The German Minister of Environment, Svenja Schulze (SPD), said on Thursday that “she regretted that her country wasn’t more ambitious in its emission reduction goals but she had to admit that her party had to obey the agreement that Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU has pushed through in the German government.”
Angry and disappointed
A number of EU countries reacted angry and disappointed on the compromise, especially after the urgent cry for stringent emission reductions emitted by the UN last Monday. Countries like the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Scandinavian members voted against the compromise.
“The German car industry is directing the European environmental policy straight into the wall”, said Claude Turmes, environmental state secretary in Luxembourg, “and we want to put an end to it.”
Also several NGOs concerned were very disappointed. Greg Archer of Transport & Environment: “The European Commission and several member states have abandoned their leading role in the climate change debate by putting the interests of the car industry in front. Not everything is lost, though, the negotiations with the EU Parliament might bring a more ambitious final result.”
Belgium loses face
Belgium was one of the countries in favour of the 40% reduction but like France it changed its mind. Apparently, Prime Minister Michel has been called by Chancellor Merkel last weekend to ask him if he couldn’t be tempted to vote for the compromise, which he accepted.
With his difficult political structure of independent communities, it was the turn of the Walloon region to represent Belgium but neither the Environmental and Mobility Minister, Di Antonio (cdH), nor his colleague for Climate, Jean-Luc Crucke (MR), asked to replace Di Antonio, were present. Belgium was only represented by deputy permanent representative to the EU, Jan Hoogmartens.
This ‘cowardly attitude’ of the Belgian government has been heavily criticized by several Belgian members of the European Parliament, most of them belonging to the political opposition in Belgium.
The meeting in Luxembourg was also used to adopt a common EU position preparing COP24, the UN summit on climate, which will be hold in December in the Polish city of Katowice.
In a very diplomatic text (some members had still to be convinced), the European Union declares itself prepared to communicate on and eventually adapt the national contributions to reach the objectives fixed at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).
There the European Union engaged itself to reduce by minimum 40% the emission of greenhouse gases in 2030 compared to 1990.