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EU hopes to strike deal on climate change law this year

(Reuters) - The European Union hopes to reach a deal this year on a law to make its climate targets irreversible, the bloc’s energy chief said on Tuesday, amid concerns that talks between countries could drag into 2021.

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The EU Commission proposed a law in March to make legally binding a goal to slash the bloc’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Asked if the law could be agreed this year, EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said: “I do have great hopes, and I do see a big ambition also from the European Parliament’s side.”

“There are all the necessary conditions to achieve agreement,” she told an online event. “The chance is there.”

The law, which the Commission, EU governments and the European Parliament must agree, will steer future climate policies towards the EU’s long-term emissions goal.

Upcoming green initiatives could be delayed if the law is pushed back.

“We cannot take the risk of delaying the climate law, as all other packages will also be delayed,” said Pascal Canfin, chair of the environment committee of the European Parliament.

Canfin said February is the absolute latest an agreement on the law could be struck without disrupting a slew of emissions-cutting policies due by next summer, including a review of the EU carbon market, new energy-saving rules and car CO2 standards.

Striking a deal will depend on Germany, which takes over the rotating EU presidency on Wednesday and will lead EU states’ negotiations for the rest of the year.

However, Germany has only said it plans to “work towards concluding” talks on the climate law, according to a government plan for its EU presidency published on Tuesday.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Jan Harvey