The 28 EU member states appeared to still be divided over long-term climate goals during a debate between the Environment ministers on Friday.
The EU is still trying to convince the last three members to commit to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
After intense discussions, the meeting did end with an agreement on the EU’s message for the next International Climate Conference (in Santiago, Chili, in December).
However, the EU did not announce it will “reinforce” its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases before a scheduled progress report next year, which is what the Finnish EU presidency wanted.
They were supported in this by several member states, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.
The EU will “update” the goals set out in the Paris agreement if needed.
The Climate Action Network criticised the EU’s behaviour. “The EU is dragging its feet and once again delaying its decision on raising the 2030 targets,” the organisation said in a press release.
The EU committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% (based on 1990 CO2 emission levels) by 2030 when it signed the Paris agreement. It has to submit a progress report to a UN committee next year.
The European Commission says the renewable energy and energy efficiency regulations put in place over the last five years mean the EU should be able to do better than 40%.
France and Sweden want to aim for 55% a reduction, in line with the European Parliament.
The meeting in Luxemburg on Friday opened on a positive note: Estonia has now also agreed to become carbon-neutral by 2050. “We aren’t all starting from the same place, not all our societies are very well informed,” Estonian Environment minister René Kokk explained during a public debate.
Three countries (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) have still not agreed to the long-term carbon –neutral targets, which require unanimity to be adopted at EU level.
The EU wants to reach an agreement on this by the end of the year. The final decision will be made by the heads of state and government.