BRUSSELS, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- This week has been an exceptional one for European lawmakers who back a tougher climate policy line, as the parliament plenary has approved the amendments to the European Climate Law that envisions climate neutrality by 2050 as a binding goal for European Union.
"Wrapping up the week. One step forward towards a sustainable continent!" Lidia Pereira, a Portuguese member of the European Parliament, tweeted on Friday.
"The approval of the Climate Law represents a major milestone in Europe's commitment with younger generations!" she rejoiced.
The parliament announced on Thursday the adoption of its negotiating mandate on the law with 392 votes in favour, 161 votes against, and 142 abstentions, after two days of debate and voting sessions.
Commenting on the voting result, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans tweeted that the parliament, with its vote on the climate law, sends a strong message about the need for ambition in tackling the climate crisis.
"This is a historic moment," claimed Jytte Guteland, a Swedish MEP who was the parliament's rapporteur on the proposed Climate Law.
Guteland said the climate law is indeed the cornerstone of the European Green Deal as it enshrines in the legislation the EU's objectives to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.
The MEPs also backed a new target of 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, up from the 55 percent goal proposed by the European Commission.
If natural sinks, which are natural storages of CO2 such as soil, forests and oceans, are to be taken into account in greenhouse gas reduction, the 55 percent target is in fact a CO2 emission reduction of only 51-53 percent, said Guteland during the debate. This will not be enough, as natural sinks are shrinking, she argued.
An interim target for 2040 should also be set as soon as possible after a thorough impact assessment, as demanded by the lawmakers.
According to Guteland, the new law, which is becoming binding for both the EU and its individual member states to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, will encourage solidarity between member states, as they all have different starting points and no one shall be left behind.
An independent scientific body, the European Climate Change Council (ECCC), will be established in order to monitor and advise the EU on its progress toward climate neutrality, according to the approved amendments.
After the voting, the European Parliament will need to start negotiations with the EU member states before a final version of the law is agreed on.
"Once (EU) Council has set its position, we should be able to quickly decide on putting climate neutrality by 2050 into law. That's European leadership," said Timmermans on Thursday.
The EU climate law was initially put forward by the European Commission in March 2020, following a decision of the European Council in 2019 to become climate-neutral by 2050.
The European Union is eager to lead the global climate action, and advocates have been encouraged to see other countries and regions following suit, with China pledging carbon neutrality before 2060 and South Africa transitioning from a system heavily relying on fossil fuel to renewable energies. Enditem