EU leaders meet to try to agree on carbon neutrality by 2050
European leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels will make a new attempt to set the European Union on course for carbon neutrality by 2050, in a test of the bloc’s credibility on the climate emergency.
Hours before EU leaders were due to arrive on Thursday, Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner on the side of the summit venue warning of the climate emergency.
Activists in climbing gear scaled the Europa building and set off distress flares and alarms as the group released a statement accusing leaders of “letting [the world] burn”. Some 28 people climbed the building known as the space egg, according to the group.
Associated Press reported that 20 people on the ground were detained.
Most EU member states support the plan to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 but Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are refusing to sign up, raising the prospect of a dramatic setback for Europe’s green credentials in the final days of the UN climate conference in Madrid.
Failure to agree the EU-wide target a second time, after a previous attempt in June, would be a blow to the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, who on Wednesday set out her vision for a green deal that would transform every aspect of economic life.
The green deal – a sweeping plan to change food production, industry, transport, buildings and energy use – is based on a target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Von der Leyen wants a €100bn (£84bn) fund of public and private money to help countries abandon fossil fuels, in addition to a plan from the European Investment Bank to incentivise €1tn of green investment between 2021 and 2030.
But EU member states are stuck over the sequencing of the 2050 target and money. The three central European countries want generous and precise promises of EU funds before they sign up to the target. France, Germany, the Netherlands and other net payers into the EU budget think the climate pledge comes first, as they do not wish to preempt discussions on the EU’s next seven-year budget, due to be concluded in 2020.