FILED - A gernal view of the European flags in front of the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

Negotiators for the EU institutions have struck a deal on new climate rules, officials from the European Parliament and the EU Council told dpa early Wednesday, paving the way for at least a 55 per cent emissions-reduction target to be enshrined in law.

Representatives of the 27 governments, the European Parliament and the European Commission came to an agreement after months of fruitless negotiations behind closed doors.

The new target is a significant jump from the current target of 40 per cent emissions reductions, compared to 1990 levels.

“This is a landmark moment for the EU and a strong signal to the world: our commitment to #ClimateNeutralEU will guide our policies the next 30 years. And positive news to share before #EarthDay,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who is charge of climate, tweeted.

“This is a good day for people and planet,” Timmermans added.

After more than 15 hours of talks, the negotiators of the European Parliament finally accepted the number that the EU heads of state and government had set at the end of 2020.

The EU Parliament had actually sought a more ambitious result, namely a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases and a more rigorous calculation method.

One of the main sticking points was the question of whether and to what extent the amounts of carbon dioxide stored by forests, plants and soils should be included.

MEPs complain that including these so-called “sinks” weakens the emissions reductions target. Instead of 55 per cent, the actual savings would only be 52.8 percent, the Greens, among others, pointed out.

The European Parliament succeeded in establishing a climate council with 15 experts to support the implementation of the goals. In addition, a greenhouse gas budget is to be determined for the next few decades, from which a milestone for 2040 can be derived.

The Greens expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“With this climate target and climate law, the European Union is losing its pioneering role in climate protection,” MEP Michael Bloss said.

“The Paris climate agreement will hardly be adhered to, climate change will not forgive us.”

His parliamentary group colleague Sven Giegold complained that the climate target had been reduced by way of a “computing trick,” which Giegold called a serious mistake.

As the deal was struck by political representatives for the institutions, the EU governments and parliament will still have to formally agree to the plans.

The parliament’s Green Party has previously expressed reservation, but would not have enough votes to block the passage of the law by itself.

There was pressure to finalize a deal before US President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit on Thursday and Friday. The United States is also expected to announce a more ambitious climate target for 2030.

Biden has returned his country to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which his predecessor Donald Trump cancelled.

At the end of the year, all contractual partners are expected to sharpen their climate targets at a world climate conference in Glasgow.

If not, the treaty goal of stopping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius – and, if possible, only 1.5 degrees – would be missed. The benchmark for comparison is the pre-industrial era.

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