Europe’s rift on the 2050 Climate Strategy

Shifting to a green economy is not as easy as putting down books and marching for change. For weeks now, children and young people in more than 100 countries have walked out of schools and taken to the streets to protest against inaction on tackling climate change. Highly publicized but rarely heard?

In Europe, the home continent of Swedish teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, the pace and means of transitioning to climate-friendly economies is at the heart of a divide between EU member states ahead of the May 26-26 European elections.

While the European Commission proposed in November that the bloc becomes the world’s first major economy to go for net-zero emissions by 2050, European heads of states and governments failed to agree on that goal at their March 22 gathering in Brussels. Indeed, they were not able to agree on the wording of the conclusions of the meeting, despite several member states including France, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg or Denmark backing the European Commission plan. 

On the other side of the divide, stand an Eastern bloc, largely coal-fired, that includes Germany and Poland, which have refused to specifically link EU climate action with the 1.5°C objective. “When it comes to climate change, there is clearly a growing rift between Germany and Poland on one side, and France and other governments on the other,” Sebastian Mang, EU climate policy adviser at Greenpeace, the environmental organisation told Euractiv on March 21. Even if the EU is on track to cut its emissions by 50% by 2030, according to a March 26 study by climate think-tank Sandbag, the German position resisting the 2050 call for complete decarbonisation makes it highly unlikely that a deal on 2050 net zero emissions is reached, at least not until June.

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