EU gets down to details in search for deal on new climate target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is offering assurances on funding for poorer members and countries’ ability to choose their own energy mix, as it strives for a deal next week on a tougher target to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to EU documents and sources.

FILE PHOTO: A power-generating windmill turbine and the church of the village are pictured during sunset at a wind park in Ecoust-Saint-Mein, France, September 6, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

To get on track for its plan to have “net zero” emissions by 2050, the EU’s executive Commission says the bloc must cut its net emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The EU’s current 2030 target is for a 40% cut.

Leaders from the 27 EU countries aim to approve the new target - by unanimity - at a summit on Dec. 10-11.

The challenge is to draft a deal that all countries will support - including states concerned by the economic transformation required, such as Poland and Bulgaria, which want more analysis and conditions attached to the goal.

The latest draft conclusions for the summit, dated Dec. 1 and seen by Reuters, would see countries endorse the “at least 55” target and ask the Commission to make cash available to help poorer states invest in clean energy - a request made by countries including Poland.

It also said countries can “choose the most appropriate technologies” to cut emissions - wording likely aimed at states including Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania, which in government papers seen by Reuters, have sought assurances that countries will be able to use nuclear power to curb emissions - and natural gas, in the case of Bulgaria.

EU officials described the latest text as progress, and said Brexit and a spat over the EU budget had so far not derailed the climate talks - though they said it was too early to tell if the text could yield a deal.

“Everyone should be able to hop on the bus now, but you never know who decides to get off before the final stop,” one official said.

An official from a country that has not yet publicly endorsed the 55% goal said it planned to make “further suggestions” to the text before next week’s summit.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Potter