Climate Change Dispatch
Daphne Psaledakis and Alissa de Carbonnel on June 21, 2019
A push by most European Union nations for the world’s biggest economic bloc to go carbon-neutral by 2050 was dropped to a footnote at a summit on Thursday after fierce resistance from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.
France and Germany had led efforts for the 28-member EU to lead by example in setting an ambitious new climate goal ahead of U.N. climate talks in September that U.S. President Donald Trump has abandoned.
But unanimity was needed, and last-ditch persuasion efforts in what diplomats described as “impassioned” talks that dragged on for four hours failed to ease fears among the central and eastern European states, including Estonia, that it would hurt economies like theirs dependent on nuclear power and coal.
EU leaders called on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to increase climate funding and acknowledged vast differences in the continent’s energy mix, but Poland remained unmoved.
“We need concrete things on the table,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. “What additional money could be allotted to Poland so that we do not end up in an offside trap?”
In an unusual move that nevertheless sends a strong signal to businesses, 24 of the EU leaders chose instead to reflect support for the mid-century goal as a footnote in their final statement:
“For a large majority of member states, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050.”