London — Expectations were high that the EU's decision-making bodies would be able to find agreement on a revamped 2030 emission reduction target in the latest three-way talks taking place April 20.
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To become law, the EU Parliament, Council and Commission need to reach a common position on the proposed tougher environmental targets for 2030, with eyes on a climate summit April 22 where US President Joe Biden is expected to up US climate goals.
"Today, April 20, we will have the sixth trilogue on the Climate Law. The presidency will strive to reach an agreement today, considering that discussions are mature after five trilogues and ten technical meetings," said a source with knowledge of the Portuguese six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council.
Negotiations have been in deadlock with EU member states in the Council backing an emission reduction target of at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030, while lawmakers in the EU Parliament have backed a stronger 60% reduction.
The Council also wants the 55% goal to be a net reduction, meaning it would allow carbon offsets to count toward the goal, while the Parliament wants the stronger 60% target to be an absolute reduction based on domestic actions within the EU.
The stronger goals compare with the EU's existing target to cut emissions by 40% by 2030.
The negotiations on the 2030 headline emission goal come ahead of expected legislative proposals by the European Commission in June, to include upgrades to the EU Emissions Trading System, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives, a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and a host of other energy and climate initiatives.
The discussions on stronger climate targets for 2030 have contributed to significant gains for EU carbon allowances in recent months, as the revamped target implies tighter supply of allowances out to 2030 for power generators, factories and airlines.
EU Allowance futures contracts for December 2021 delivery on ICE Futures Europe rose above Eur40/mt ($48.19/mt) for the first time in February 2021 and traded in a range of Eur43.89/mt to Eur44.73/mt April 20, just off an all-time high of Eur44.95/mt seen April 19.
Climate change took center stage more broadly this week with eyes on the April 22-23 climate summit -- which coincides with Earth Day 2021 -- where US President Biden has invited 40 world leaders to discuss the global response to the threat.
The US is expected to announce a strengthened 2030 emissions reduction target under its Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement, which comes ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate talks hosted by the UK in November.
Under the Paris deal, nations have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 compared with pre-industrial levels.
The move is expected to prompt a massive expansion in renewable energy, hydrogen, sustainable transportation and clean technology across the energy, heavy industrial, building and agriculture sectors.
Serving to highlight the growing international momentum on climate, the UK on April 20 announced a strengthened target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 from 1990 levels and confirmed it will include emissions from international shipping and aviation in its sixth carbon budget running 2033 to 2037 – the first major economy to do so.