EU fails to adopt 2050 carbon neutral goal

24 Jun 2019

The European Council has failed to reach a landmark agreement on carbon neutrality by 2050, after the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland refused to set a specific date for net zero carbon emissions. The four countries are all dependent on thermal power generation (60% of the power mix for the Czech Republic in 2018, 89% for Poland, 94% for Estonia and 47% for Hungary, where nuclear accounts for another 49%). Committing to phase out thermal power generation by 2050 would represent a major shift in their energy mix and significant investments. Poland rejected any carbon neutrality plan by 2050 before a "thorough analysis" of the costs. Instead of an agreement, a footnote in the final European summit statement specifies that "For a large majority of Member States, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050". Negotiations could resume in October 2019.

Earlier in June 2019, the European Commission unveiled the results of an assessment of member states' plans to implement the EU's Energy Union objective and energy efficiency contributions and highlighted the need for a collective step up of ambition. It announced that plans would fall short both in terms of renewables: the gap could be as big as 1.6 percentage points for renewable energies and as much as 6.2 percentage points for energy efficiency (if considering primary energy consumption) or 6 percentage points (if considering final energy consumption). 

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