On 6 October 2020, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate for the EU climate change law. The new law aims to turn political promises that the EU will become carbon neutral by 2050 into a binding commitment and to give European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for change.
MEPs insist that both the EU and all Member States must individually become climate neutral by 2050 and that the EU should then achieve "negative emissions". They also call for sufficient funding to achieve this.
The Commission must propose by 31 May 2023, through the ordinary decision-making procedure, a way forward at EU level to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, say MEPs. It must take into account the EU's total remaining greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in order to limit the rise in temperature in line with the Paris agreement. The trajectory should be reviewed after each stocktaking at global level.
MEPs also want to establish an EU Climate Change Council (ECCC) as an independent scientific body to assess policy coherence and monitor progress.
The EU's current emission reduction target for 2030 is 40 percent compared to 1990, and the Commission has recently proposed raising this target to "at least 55Percent" in the amended proposal for EU climate change legislation. MEPs raised the bar even higher, calling for a 60 percent reduction in 2030, adding that national targets should be increased in a cost-effective and fair way.
They also want an intermediate target for 2040, to be proposed by the Commission following an impact assessment to ensure that the EU is on track to meet its 2050 target.
Finally, the EU and Member States must also phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 31 December 2025 at the latest, say MEPs, while stressing the need to continue efforts to tackle energy poverty.
The Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with the Member States as soon as the Council has agreed on a common position.
At its meeting on 23 October, the Council reached a partial general agreement on the proposed European Climate Change Act.
The Council's position is partial because it does not yet contain an updated target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for 2030. Further work is needed to reach an agreement between the Member States in this respect. The Council has modified the part of the original proposal that would have allowed the Commission to set a target path for achieving climate neutrality by means of delegated acts. Instead, the Council calls on the Commission to propose an interim target for 2040 after the first global stocktaking under the Paris Convention. The Council retains the concept of an indicative, linear target path; this is intended merely as a tool to assist the Commission in assessing progress.