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Finnish EU presidency to push 2050 net-zero CO₂ accord by end-2019

Highlights

Wants EU leaders to commit to EC's strategy: PM

EC plans 2050 net-zero CO₂ proposals in 2020

EU has to submit Paris accord pledges in 2020

Brussels — Finland will push all EU leaders to commit to 2050 net-zero emissions by the end of its EU presidency in just over five months time, its Prime Minister Annti Rinne told the European Parliament Wednesday.

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A net-zero commitment is a step up from the current EU goal to cut emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels, and implies a faster cut in emissions needed than foreseen in current EU legislation.

"If the long-term objectives are to be achieved cost-effectively, the pace of emissions reductions must be significantly accelerated already in the next few years," the FinnishEU presidency said on its website.

The next European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, plans to propose enshrining the 2050 net-zero CO₂ target in law, and raising the EU's binding 2030 CO₂ cut target to at least 50%, up from 40%, she told the parliament on Tuesday.

Related story: EU Commission presidential nominee wants 2050 EU net-zero CO₂ law

To help meet these new goals, she plans to propose extending the EU's Emissions Trading System to shipping, reduce free allowances for airlines, and find ways to include road traffic and construction.

These measures, if approved, would affect every energy-using sector, and could boost alternative fuels such as electricity, hydrogen, LNG and biofuels.

BACKING EC STRATEGY

The Finnish EU presidency hopes to reach a "common understanding" among EU leaders on an ambitious 2050 emission reduction goal at their October or December meetings, it said on its website.

At their June meeting, 24 of the EU's 28 national leaders backed the idea of having net-zero emissions by 2050, based on a strategy paper published by the European Commission in November.

Czechia, Estonia, Hungary and Poland are understood to have asked for more time to assess what such a commitment would mean in practice for them.

The EU has to submit a long-term climate plan to the UN in 2020 under the terms of the Paris global climate accord.

"We already have the most ambitious targets among the industrialized economies in place and we have a binding legal framework that will deliver our current commitments," Rinne told the parliament.

"But we must not stop here. For the EU, leadership means committing to climate neutrality by 2050," he said.

2030 NATIONAL PLANS

The Finnish EU presidency also intends to push EU countries to finalize their 2030 national energy and climate plans by the end of this year, as required under EU rules.

The plans are to set out their contributions to the EU's binding target to source at least 32% of its final energy energy demand from renewables, and the non-binding target to improve its EU's energy efficiency by 32.5%, compared with business as usual.

If all the EU's agreed climate measures are implemented in full, EU emissions could fall by around 45% by 2030.

The Finnish EU presidency intends to discuss the 2030 plans at the EU energy ministers' council meeting in September, to provide "guidance at ministerial level for further work".

The EC said last month that the draft national plans submitted for assessment fell short of the commitments required, and gave each country specific recommendations on how to improve it.

Finland is leading the policy debates in the EU Council of ministers during its six-month presidency to the end of 2019.

-- Siobhan Hall, siobhan.hall@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com