On 20th on June, European Union Leaders came together in the Brussels EU Summit to reach an agreement on setting the date of 2050 to reduce EU net carbon emissions to zero. The focus of the meeting was to set a detailed agenda for the next 5-year parliamentary term, concerning key issues facing the EU, including migration, living standards and climate overheating. Dissapointingly, by the end of the meeting, no agreement was reached.
Carbon neutrality basically means maintaining a net zero carbon footprint. This is achiavable either by eliminating carbon emissions completely, or by finding the equilibrium between carbon emissions and carbon removal with CO2 offsetting. Climate neutrality therefore refers to slightly different schemes in different countries. Some aim to offset the emissions they generate by buying carbon credits that fund initiatives like reforestation.
Unanimous vote is required
Under the rules of the bloc, a unanimous decision was required to adopt the proposal. Leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia refused to sign the agreement with a 2050 deadline. Poland gets around 80% of its electricity from coal, The New York Times reported. These countries were concerned that setting such a deadline would disproportionately impact their economies. The countries are already bound under the bloc’s rules to reduce their carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Nevertheless, the urgency and need to increase this percentage is high. The current agreement includes only a footnote saying that a “large majority” of countries supported a 2050 target.
During the EU parliamentary elections in May, environmental parties gained significant support. They won 69 seats out of 751 in total, which means 17 more than in the last elections. However, it’s important to note that the increase was centered to Western Europe. The green wave didn’t reach several Eastern European countries, which, Poland included, didn’t elect a single Green representative.
In the EU summit, the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, raised the question: “Why should we decide 31 years ahead of time what will happen in 2050?” Well, all around EU, there is an unprecedented increase of climate activism. The global alarm is rang, and fortunately member countries are willing to listen to it, supporting the 2050 carbon neutrality target. Sweden has set an earlier date of 2045 and Finland has announced an even more ambitious goal of 2035. The real question is not if it makes sense now to think 30 years ahead,. It’s rather the fact that if we systematically postpone the “now”, what will be the point when it’s just too late to even ask.