The European Parliament has voted in favor of an agreement with the EU Council on the bloc's revamped greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.
The vote makes the EU's 2030 and 2050 climate targets legally binding and clears the way for the European Commission's package of legislative proposals on climate and energy on July 14, which aims to deliver on the overarching target.
The vote means the Parliament has given its final rubber stamp on a provisional deal it reached with the EU Council April 21 in which the EU will raise its emissions reduction target to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030, from the previous 40% goal.
"Parliament endorsed the Climate Law, agreed informally with member states in April, with 442 votes to 203 and 51 abstentions," the parliament said in a statement June 24.
"It transforms the European Green Deal's political commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation," the parliament said.
"It gives European citizens and businesses the legal certainty and predictability they need to plan for this transition. After 2050, the EU will aim for negative emissions," it said.
In order to keep a net-zero emissions by 2050 goal on track, the European Commission will make a proposal for a 2040 target at the latest within six months of the first global review in 2023 foreseen in the Paris Agreement, the parliament said.
By Sept. 30, 2023, and every five years thereafter, the EC will assess the collective progress made by all EU countries, as well as the consistency of national measures, toward the EU's goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
Pace of emission cuts needs to triple
Lawmakers said the scale of the challenge in meeting the new climate targets should not be underestimated.
The agreement with the EU Council represents a "good deal based on science that will make a big difference," said the parliament's rapporteur on the climate law, Swedish lawmaker Jytte Guteland.
"The EU must now reduce emissions more in the next decade than it has in the previous three decades combined, and we have new and more ambitious targets that can inspire more countries to step up," she said in the parliament's statement.
The deal is expected to receive a final rubber stamp by the EU Council in the next few days and will enter into force 20 days later.
German lawmaker Peter Liese, environment spokesman for the center-right European People's Party in the EU Parliament, said the climate target was at the top of the EU's policy agenda.
"Climate protection is probably the most important task of our generation of politicians. If we do not act vigorously, our children and grandchildren will not be able to get a grip on climate change anymore," he said in a statement June 24.
"The adopted target, especially for 2030, is extremely ambitious. Between 1990 and 2020, the EU cut greenhouse gases by 25%; now we have to cut them by 30% in just nine years. That means not only doubling our efforts, but more than tripling them," he said.
The EC is set to unveil the so-called Fit-for-55 package of legislative measures on July 14, which collectively aim to provide the tools needed to reach the 55% goal by 2030.
Those include revisions to the EU Emissions Trading System; updated Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives; an upgraded Effort Sharing Regulation, which deals with emissions from transport, buildings and waste; an energy tax revision; alternative fuels infrastructure; sustainable maritime fuels; and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism which would place a fee on the carbon content of EU imports of power, metals, cement and fertilizer, according to a draft proposal leaked earlier in June.