Defying Trump, EU Parliament backs Paris climate goals

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The European Parliament backed curbs on EU states’ emissions on Wednesday to share the burden of the bloc’s Paris climate goals and forge ahead despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the 195-nation pact.

Employees clean the windows of the main building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 21, 2006. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

It voted 534 to 88 in favor of binding national targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions in sectors including transport, agriculture and waste management to achieve the bloc’s overall goal of emissions at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Taking the floor ahead of the vote, EU politicians reiterated disappointment over Trump’s decision and rejected his call to renegotiate what he called the “draconian” economic costs of a deal they pledged to implement without Washington.

“The refusal of the US to commit to the Paris agreement will push the rest of the world to be even more united against climate change,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the parliament.

In months of tough talks, deputies sought a compromise between ambitious climate measures and concerns among the bloc’s 28-member states over the economic strain of the requisite shift to low-carbon technology in big employment sectors.

Environment campaigners hailed the draft law’s call for a more ambitious baseline for calculating emission-reduction targets than that proposed by the European Commission, the EU executive.

However, the parliament voted against a proposal to decrease the amount of credits from well-managed forests, which absorb carbon dioxide, that may be used to offset emissions. It also included measures to support lower-income EU member states.

“Today’s vote gives a crystal clear signal to Donald Trump: Europe acts on its commitments under the Paris agreement and seizes the opportunities of green growth, with or without you,” said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch deputy who shepherded the draft law through the chamber.

The legislation still needs the support of EU governments before becoming law in a lengthy process of up to two year.

The EU, the world’s third-largest emitter, has pledged to team up with China, world’s largest polluter, to defend the Paris climate pact’s goal of limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

But the bloc still faces hurdles implementing its climate goals that include truculent member states like pro-coal Poland and Britain’s plans to exit from the bloc.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Strasbourg and Alissa de Carbonnel, Charlotte Steenackers and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Tom Heneghan