Germany joins push for EU-wide 2050 net zero emissions goal

Germany will join a growing push for an EU-wide target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, increasing the odds that EU leaders could formally agree to the goal this week, according to EU officials.

The European Commission proposed last year that the bloc adopt a mid-century net zero emissions goal, meaning the EU would absorb as much greenhouse gases as it emits. Member country leaders are set to discuss the bloc’s long-term climate strategy at a European Council summit Thursday. The EU’s current goal is to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, and efforts to increase that target have failed.

Germany, along with several Central European countries, was previously wary of backing the 2050 climate neutrality goal over concerns it could hurt jobs and economic competitiveness. Berlin did not express support for the goal at a meeting of EU leaders in Romania last month.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel is under growing political pressure at home to do more to cut emissions and meet climate targets; and last week the government issued a position paper supporting the target, according to officials.

Berlin’s backing adds to growing pressure for the EU to adopt the goal. France is spearheading an alliance of countries that want to get the bloc to make the commitment ahead of a U.N. climate summit in September.

The group — originally made up of eight largely Northern and Western EU members — has grown to more than 16, including Latvia, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, according to officials. The U.K. government on Tuesday also announced it would put the net zero emissions goal into law, one of Theresa May’s final moves before leaving her post as prime minister.