EU’s landmark climate deal to be finalised within months, says Portugal

Portugal means to use its six-month presidency of the European Union to finalise a landmark law containing the bloc’s emissions-cutting targets, Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes, the country’s environment minister has told Reuters.

The bill will make the EU’s climate targets irreversible, he said, including the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and speed up emissions reductions.

Matos Fernandes said he hopes the law will be agreed by early April. He described it as Portugal’s top priority.”

Nonetheless, there will be “tough” negotiations ahead since EU institutions “still do not see eye to eye”.

EU countries and the Commission want the law to include a target to cut net emissions at least 55% (from 1990 levels) by 2030, and say countries should collectively deliver the EU’s 2050 goal, while the European Parliament wants a 60% emissions cut this decade and a requirement for every EU country to become climate neutral by 2050.

Brussels hopes a legal framework will help investors and businesses plan their ‘transition’ and make much-needed green investments, adds Reuters – explaining that Portugal holds the rotating EU presidency until June and is thus in the driving seat vis-a-vis negotiations.

As Matos Fernandes stressed: “In a country like Portugal, you can feel it (meaning climate change), you can see it. We have to talk about adaptation…”

The next six months will also see EU countries try to agree plans to renovate Europe’s buildings to save energy, and establish EU standards for green electric vehicle batteries.

This latter ambition is of key interest for Portugal, says Reuters, as it has 60,000 tonnes of known reserves of the battery metal lithium.

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