Climate ambition hangs in balance as Europe votes

(Climate Change News, 22 May 2019) The EU’s new parliament and commission face major decisions that reach far beyond where energy comes from.

Climate-sceptic far right parties are surging in polls ahead of European Parliament elections 23-26 May, while on the streets, activists are demanding emergency measures to prevent climate chaos.

In the middle, the emerging consensus is to strengthen the EU’s 2050 target to net zero emissions. Yet the steps to get there remain highly contested. The goal raises tough questions about the future for coal mining and car making communities in Europe, and the sustainability of trade relations outside it.

“The burning item that leaders have to solve first is the question of climate neutrality by 2050 and the follow-up from that,” says Quentin Genard, head of the Brussels office at think-tank E3G. “It needs a lot to change. It is still unclear what kind of change it is going to trigger.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel softened her position toward 2050 climate neutrality last week. It has already been backed by the current commissioners and eight countries, but some eastern member states remain sceptical.

The bloc, which is viewed as a pace-setter on climate targets, is expected to boost its ambition in an updated contribution to the Paris Agreement next year. Whether leaders can reach a political agreement in time to announce it at UN chief Antonio Guterres’ September climate summit in New York is an open question.

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Climate Change News, 22 May 2019: Climate ambition hangs in balance as Europe votes