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EU sees 'Green Deal' delays but keeps climate target plan: draft document

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during an extraordinary session to present a Green Deal plan, at the European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during an extraordinary session to present a Green Deal plan, at the European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

REUTERS

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during an extraordinary session to present a Green Deal plan, at the European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

The European Commission will delay some climate policies under its signature “Green Deal” proposal due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the timeline to unveil a new 2030 emissions target is unchanged, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

The pandemic and economic shock have forced the EU executive to review its plans for 2020, as the novel coronavirus demands an urgent focus on ensuring an economic recovery at a time when most of the EU executive’s staff are under lockdown at home.

Initiatives including plans to protect biodiversity and reforms to make farming more sustainable, due to be unveiled on April 29, could be delayed until later in 2020.

The sustainable agriculture plan may need to be reworked if the Commission changes its proposal for the next multi-year, 2021-2027 EU budget in light of the pandemic, the draft said.

Reforms to make the transport and chemicals sectors more sustainable could also be pushed back to later this year.

Meanwhile, plans to help the bloc adapt to the impact of climate change, improve sustainable forest management, and give consumers better information on recycling and repairing products, are pushed back to 2021, the document said.

“The Commission is currently reviewing its 2020 work program due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. We are planning on presenting an updated work program in the following weeks,” a Commission spokeswoman said.

However, a draft of the revised workplan says the EU executive’s most urgent climate policies will not be delayed.

These include a plan to propose a new, more ambitious EU 2030 climate target in September.

The target revision is a “pivotal element” of EU climate policy, the draft said.

The EU was under pressure to unveil a new 2030 target in time for a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, which was scheduled for November but has been delayed to 2021.

The Commission needs to encourage bigger EU emissions cuts over the next decade to put the bloc on track for its “Green Deal” vision that by 2050, EU countries will emit no more greenhouse gases than can be absorbed.

An EU sustainable finance strategy, due after the European summer break, will also not be delayed, the draft said, adding that the policy could help ensure the EU’s post-crisis recovery plan aligns with climate aims.

“This action plan ... is very important for orienting the private flow of money towards a sustainable recovery,” it said.

A group of 180 European politicians, companies and campaigners on Tuesday urged Brussels to use green investments to restart growth after the pandemic.

The Commission says its Green Deal remains a high priority despite the pandemic, but some EU lawmakers expressed concern at the planned delays.

“The right to repair (broken electrical goods), the switch to climate-friendly mobility and the Europe-wide energy transition are being jeopardised,” German Green lawmaker Michael Bloss said.

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