Europe’s leaders met in Brussels on 20 June to discuss, among other things, whether to follow the UK’s recent move and collectively adopt a net-zero climate target for 2050.
In the end, a unanimous decision could not be reached, following resistance by four countries led by Poland. Discussions are set to continue, with the matter relegated to a footnote in the text summarising the meeting’s agreed outcomes.
The conclusions of the summit called on the European Commission and Council to carry out further work to ensure a transition to a “climate neutral EU in line with the Paris Agreement that will preserve European competitiveness, be just and socially balanced, take account of Member States’ national circumstances and respect their right to decide on their own energy mix.”
What the tensions highlight, though, is how challenging some countries see phasing out their current reliance on fossil fuels. One such EU country is Ireland. It has the third highest per-capita emissions of any member state, but the government this week finally published its long-awaited “climate action plan to tackle climate breakdown”.
By the government’s own admission, it’s “nowhere near” meeting its own climate goals. Ireland has some near-unique challenges, such as ending the burning of peat, but it also faces many widely shared problems, too. Like the UK, these include decarbonising transport and heat.