EU countries earlier on Wednesday finalized agreements on proposed legislation to tackle climate change, backing a phase-out of new fossil-fuel car sales by 2035 and a multibillion-euro fund to protect poorer citizens from carbon-related costs.
After more than 16 hours of negotiations, environment ministers from the 27 member states of the European Union have agreed their joint positions on five laws that are part of a broader package of measures to reduce planet-warming emissions this decade.
“The climate crisis and its consequences are clear, and therefore the policy is inevitable,” said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans, adding that he thought the invasion of Ukraine by leading gas supplier Russia was spurring countries to shift away from fossil fuels give up faster.
Ministers backed key parts of the package first proposed by the European Commission last summer, including a law requiring new cars sold in the EU to emit zero CO2 by 2035. That would make it impossible to sell internal combustion engine cars.
The deal makes it likely that the proposal will become EU law. The ministers’ agreements form their position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU Parliament on the final laws. Parliament has already backed the car target for 2035.
Italy, Slovakia and other countries wanted to postpone the exit to 2040. Countries eventually backed a compromise proposal from Germany, the EU’s largest car market, which kept the target for 2035 and asked Brussels to assess in 2026 whether hybrid vehicles or carbon-neutral fuels could meet the target.
Timmermans said the commission would remain “open-minded” but that hybrids today are not delivering sufficient emissions reductions and alternative fuels are prohibitively expensive.
The climate proposals aim to ensure that the 27-nation EU – the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases – meets its target by 2030 of reducing net emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels.
This requires governments and industry to invest heavily in cleaner manufacturing, renewable energy and electric vehicles.
Ministers backed a new EU carbon market to impose carbon costs on polluting fuels used in transport and buildings, although they said it should start in 2027, a year later than initially planned.
After tough negotiations, they agreed to set up a €59 billion EU fund to shield low-income citizens from the costs of the policy over the 2027-2032 period.
Lithuania was the only country to resist the final deals after unsuccessfully seeking a larger fund alongside Poland, Latvia and others amid fears the new carbon market could increase citizens’ energy bills.
Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands – wealthier countries that would pay more into the fund than they would get back – wanted it to be smaller.
Ministers also lobbied for reforms of the EU’s current carbon market, which makes industry and power plants pay when they pollute.
Countries accepted key elements of the Commission’s proposal to strengthen the market to cut emissions by 61% by 2030 and extend it to include shipping. They agreed on rules that should make it easier for the EU to intervene in the event of CO2 price peaks.
Ministers backed two more laws to strengthen national emission reduction targets that Brussels sets for countries in some sectors and to increase natural carbon sinks such as forests.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/environment/eu-countries-reach-deal-on-climate-laws-after-late-night-talks-41800563.html EU countries agree on climate laws after late-night talks