June 17, 2020 / 2:31 PM / 19 days ago

Mayors of central European capitals call for tougher EU climate goals

WARSAW/BRUSSELS, June 17 (Reuters) - The mayors of Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava have urged the European Union to set a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2030, calling the escalating climate crisis a greater challenge than the coronavirus pandemic.

In an open letter to the president of the European Council, published on Wednesday, the mayors of the four capital cities said the EU should target a 55% emissions cut by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, up from its current goal for a 40% reduction, and asked for EU measures to support cities’ climate action.

“The joint crises of the coronavirus and global warming creates an unprecedented test of concerted action for the EU,” said the letter, which comes ahead of an EU summit on Friday, where national leaders will try to agree on the bloc’s coronavirus recovery package and its next seven-year budget.

“We have great hopes and expectations for the recovery plans under development,” the mayors added. “However, these recovery measures must not lose sight of the escalating climate crisis, a challenge even greater than the coronavirus.”

Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski is a member of Poland’s biggest opposition party, and its candidate for the presidential election set for June 28. His climate call pits him against coal-heavy Poland’s conservative national government, which is the only EU member state government that has not committed to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The stance of Zdenek Hrib, mayor of Prague, is also at odds with that of the Czech government, which backed the bloc’s long-term climate target, but has said a tougher EU 2030 emissions goal would not be achievable.

The European Commission, the EU executive, is considering a new 2030 EU emissions goal of either 50% or 55%, and is expected to favour a 55% cut.

It will propose a new target in September, kicking off talks with member states and EU lawmakers, who must approve it. Some lawmakers are pushing for an even tougher goal, of a 65% cut. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw and Kate Abnett in Brussels; Additional reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Pravin Char)

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