European Union leaders have agreed on a “common goal” of net-zero emissions by 2050, setting a major economic transformation, known as the European Green Deal, into motion. All but one of the EU’s 28 member states approved the new 2050 target; Poland, which gets 80 percent of its electricity from coal, opted out, saying it will “reach climate neutrality at its own pace.”
European leaders debated the carbon neutrality goal for 10 hours at a European Council meeting in Brussels this week, The Guardian reported. The Czech Republic and Hungary were also initially against the goal until member states agreed to recognize nuclear energy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Poland said it would reconsider joining the 2050 target at the council’s meeting in June 2020. Member states also pledged to reassess the continent’s 2030 climate target, hoping to up it to a 50-percent cut in emissions.
“Climate neutrality by 2050 is our common goal,” European Council President, Charles Michel, told reporters. “But at the same time it is correct that for one member state, at this stage, it is not possible to commit to implement this objective. It is very important for the European Union [and] the strong message today is we want to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.”
The new EU commitment governs roughly 9 percent of global carbon emissions, according to Climate Home News. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a $111 billion investment fund to help nations transition to a green economy, saying the climate challenge is Europe’s “man on the moon moment,” Al Jazeera reported. Von der Leyer said she plans to release the details of the new fund in January. The European Investment Bank also said it is aiming to generate $1.1 trillion for new clean energy and climate-based investment from public and private sources.