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Science

EU Lawmakers Approve Deal on Climate Neutrality by 2050

BRUSSELS — European lawmakers approved Thursday a climate law making the bloc's commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2050 a binding obligation.

The deal had been agreed with member states in April and EU legislators approved it with 442 votes to 203, and 51 abstentions.

Under the law, the EU will also commit itself to an intermediate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The 2030 target had been 40%, but under the pressure of increasing evidence of climate change — and a more environmentally conscious electorate — it was pushed up. 

The European Parliament had initially proposed an even greater 60% reduction in emissions.

"I would have preferred to go even further, but this is a good deal based on science that will make a big difference," said Parliament rapporteur 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."

World leaders agreed six years ago in Paris to keep the global warming increase to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) by the end of the century. Scientists say countries will miss both of those goals by a wide margin unless drastic steps are taken to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Once approved by the Council, the EU institution representing member states, the regulation will become a law entering into force 20 days later.

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