EU could update its climate pledge to show faster progress towards CO2 targets

By Kate Abnet

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union countries are debating whether to update their climate pledge ahead of this year’s COP28 summit, to show they plan to exceed their current CO2 emissions reduction target, according to a draft document.

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

A draft document, seen by Reuters, said EU countries could notify the United Nations that they can achieve a 57% reduction in emissions. The text was in square brackets, indicating that it is not yet accepted by all countries.

The overshoot would only occur if countries complied with policies recently adopted by the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. They include renewable energy expansion bonds and higher charges for companies that pollute.

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

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

“We need to face the facts. While I appreciate that progress has been made over the past few years, the incremental steps taken so far to address the climate crisis fall short of the urgency of the moment” , incoming COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber told a meeting of governments last week.

Current targets for reducing countries’ CO2 emissions would fail to prevent far more dangerous levels of global warming – which scientists say would lead to impacts even more disastrous and frequent than extreme heat waves, wildfires and floods already experienced in the world today.

Yet the appetite for green policies varies from country to country, and some recent EU proposals have met with political resistance – including a landmark law to restore damaged natural environments, to which a minority of country objected for fear it would disrupt agriculture, housing construction and other activities.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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