1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

EU bumps up climate goals ahead of Biden summit

April 21, 2021

After negotiating throughout the night, EU representatives agreed to cut emissions 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. But the Green bloc in the European Parliament is not happy.

A woman holding a sign that reads Don't got breaking my heart with an Earth in the heart during a protest in Berlin
People across the EU have taken to the streets over recent years to demand climate protection Image: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

The European Union aims to become climate neutral by 2050 and has now made a legal commitment to reach that goal, said European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.

The deal, which still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and its member states, would also see the bloc cut emissions more steeply by 2030.

"The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation," von der Leyen added. "It is our binding pledge to our children and grandchildren."

The announcement came as a result of some 15 hours of talks among representatives of EU member states. Negotiators raced to reach a deal before a scheduled videoconference with US President Joe Biden  on Thursday.

How big is the EU pledge?

Under the old legislation, the EU's goal was to cut its greenhouse emissions by 40% compared to their 1990 level by the end of this decade. The new deal puts the target at 55%.

However, the new target still falls short of the 60% goal the European Parliament originally hoped to include into the bill.

How green is Germany really?

Members of the Green bloc in the assembly signaled their disappointment with the agreement. Some lawmakers have pointed out that the reduction could actually end up being lower than 55% due to changes in how the drop is calculated. The negotiators had clashed on whether to consider carbon dioxide captured by forests and plants as part of the national reductions.

EU Parliament member Sven Giegold said the climate target had been reduced by way of a "computing trick." His colleague Michael Bloss said the EU was losing its pioneering role in climate protection.

"The Paris climate agreement will hardly be adhered to, climate change will not forgive us," Bloss said.

What is the US stance on climate goals?

At the two-day virtual summit hosted by the US, Biden is expected to also announce more ambitious plans for cutting emissions by 2030. The United States, similar to the EU, is aiming for climate neutrality by 2050 and hoping to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The ambitious goal is enshrined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which the US returned to under the Biden administration.

Child activist: 'Our leaders are ruining our lives'

dj/sms (dpa, AP)