November 21, 2018 / 2:45 PM / 21 days ago

Governments, firms call on EU to set net-zero emissions goal

FILE PHOTO: Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, is pictured near Belchatow, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of European Union governments and companies have called for the bloc to set a path for net-zero emissions by 2050 in its long-term climate strategy next week.

In two separate letters seen by Reuters this week, ministers from 10 EU nations and business leaders wrote to the EU’s climate Commissioner urging a more ambitious policy to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“By setting this long-term target, the EU will set the direction of travel for all European businesses,” the letter signed by the head of Unilever, Virgin Group, French energy firms Engie and EDF, among others.

“Allowing us to grasp the tremendous economic opportunities that this transition presents.”

The European Commission will propose a strategy on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions next week ahead of U.N. climate talks in Katowice, Poland, next month.

The draft plan will offer member states eight pathways toward meeting the bloc’s Paris climate goals of cutting emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Extreme temperatures across the northern hemisphere this summer have fueled concerns that climate change is gathering pace, leading some countries to call for tougher action.

In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned the world would have to make unprecedented changes to meet the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and David Evans

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