EU may update climate pledge to show faster progress on CO2 goals

BRUSSELS (Reuters) : European Union countries are debating whether to update their climate pledge ahead of this year’s COP28 summit, to show they expect to exceed their current goal for CO2 emission cuts, a draft document showed.

The 27-country EU has one of the most ambitious climate targets among major economies – having agreed in law to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

A draft document, seen by Reuters, said EU countries may notify the United Nations that they can reach a 57% emissions cut. The text was in brackets, indicating it is not yet agreed by all countries.

The overshoot would only happen if countries comply with recently-passed EU policies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. They include obligations to expand renewable energy, and higher fees for companies that pollute.

An updated pledge from Europe – the world’s fourth-biggest emitter after China, the United States and India – could increase the pressure on other countries to improve their green goals ahead of this year’s United Nations climate summit in November.

The United Arab Emirates, the summit’s host, has asked all governments to update their targets by September, and called for faster progress.

“We have to face facts. While I appreciate that progress has been made over the past years, the incremental steps taken so far to address the climate crisis are not meeting the urgency of the moment,” COP28 incoming president Sultan al-Jaber told a meeting of governments last week.

Countries’ existing CO2-cutting targets would fail to prevent far more dangerous levels of global warming – which scientists say would bring even more disastrous and frequent impacts than the extreme heatwaves, wildfires and floods already experienced around the world today.

Still, appetite for green policies varies between countries, and some recent EU proposals have hit political resistance – including a flagship law to restore damaged natural environments, which a minority of countries opposed for fear it would disrupt farming, housing construction and other activities.

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