Accelerating EU climate policies to break free from Russia, say 11 countries

Danish Climate Minister Dan Jorgensen speaks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, April 7 (Reuters) – European Union countries should speed up negotiations on new climate change policies and also increase the ambition of those proposals to exit Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible, people said. Thursday 11 countries.

EU countries and the European Parliament are negotiating a range of green measures this year, including an overhaul of the EU’s carbon market, a 2035 ban on new combustion engine cars and higher targets to develop renewable energies.

The proposals aim to cut the EU’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. But their links to energy security have come to light as the bloc seeks to end its reliance on Russian fuels by 2027 – in part through renewables and energy savings – in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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“Now is the time to be bold and move forward with determination on the green transition. Any delay or hesitation will only prolong our energy dependence,” 11 EU countries said in a joint statement, seen by Reuters and which is to be released on Thursday. .

“Negotiations on the package should therefore be accelerated and ambitions strengthened,” they said, urging countries to back the proposals.

The declaration was led by Denmark and signed by Austria, Germany, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovenia.

Danish Climate Minister Dan Jorgensen said countries were calling for a “green path to EU energy independence from Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible”.

Not all countries agree. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Wednesday the EU should suspend its carbon market, the bloc’s main emissions-cutting tool, in response to high energy prices. Poland has said climate talks should be halted to assess the impact of the war.

Russia supplies 40% of European gas. The 11 countries said the dash to replace that with non-Russian gas must avoid locking in emissions and ensure the EU stays on track to net zero emissions by 2050.

Brussels expects climate proposals, if approved, to cut EU gas consumption by 30% by 2030. Faster expansion of renewables and energy savings could also help rein in energy bills, which have skyrocketed amid high gas prices in recent months.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Christy J. Olson