Three eastern EU states voice objections to 2050 neutrality plan: sources

General view inside the European Parliament ahead of a plenary session, in Brussels, Belgium December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have raised objections to the latest draft decision of a Thursday-Friday summit of EU leaders who aim to commit the bloc to climate neutrality by 2050, according to diplomats and documents.

The three countries blocked a previous EU attempt to introduce legal obligations to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century compared to 1990 levels.

EU leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday and will push that goal again after the bloc’s executive European Commission has proposed on Wednesday a new climate pact called the “Green Deal” that outlines the same ambition.

But Hungarian government spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, said on Wednesday: “Beyond the existing 2030 commitments we can only make new ones based on serious, clear and responsible calculations. This is the only way to make responsible decisions.”

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Twitter: “The Czech Republic also wants to reach carbon neutrality, but we won’t make it without nuclear. The EU must recognize nuclear as emission-free source.”

“On the top of that, the costs of carbon neutrality will be huge.”

A document prepared by the Czech Republic, which was seen by Reuters ahead of the summit, demands changes to the EU leaders’ draft decision, including to spell out that nuclear power plants could be co-financed by the EU to help lower CO2 emissions.

A Polish official also said: “There is a chance for an agreement. It’s not very big but it’s not very small either.”

“The latest draft conclusions of the summit decision on climate still require further work from our point of view,” the person said, adding that Poland mostly wanted more precise guarantees of generous funding for climate transition to be able to sign up for the 2050 goal.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Marton Dunai and Jan Lopatka; Editing by John Chalmers