European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to help EU nations that still heavily rely on fossil fuels. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to help EU nations that still heavily rely on fossil fuels. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

EU to offer billions to help poorer EU nations cut emissions

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to put up 100 billion euros ($130 billion) to help EU nations that still heavily rely on fossil fuels to transition to lower emissions.

Von der Leyen, who took office this month at the helm of the European Union’s powerful executive arm, has made the fight against climate change the top priority of her five-year mandate. The first woman ever to lead the commission, she has pledged to make the EU the world’s first carbon -neutral continent by 2050 as part of the “European Green Deal” she will unveil later Wednesday.

A draft of the climate change resolutions that EU leaders will confer on Thursday, obtained by The Associated Press, says the 100 billion-euro investment will serve as “support for regions and sectors most affected by the transition.”

In a brief declaration to journalists before her speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, Von der Leyen said the money will “precisely be targeted to the most vulnerable regions and sectors.”

The commission hopes the fund will help the regions that stand to be hit the hardest financially by the transition to cleaner industries. Among them, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, which rely heavily on coal-fired power plants, have yet to commit to the EU’s goal of having net zero emissions of CO2 by 2050.

That goal will be discussed Thursday during a meeting of EU heads of state and government in Brussels. The new climate help fund, whose full details should be unveiled in January, might help convince leaders from those three countries to join that goal.

“I want us to agree on the commitment for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050,” said Charles Michel, president of the EU Council, in a letter to EU leaders. “This would be a major signal from the European Council that the EU will take a global leadership role on this crucial issue.”

He said the transition to a lower-emissions economy will create opportunities for economic growth, but that the EU needs to recognize that the shift could be more disruptive for certain countries.

Von der Leyen, who will present in March a European Climate Law, wants the 28-country bloc to reduce carbon emission by at least 50% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, more than the current goal of 40%. If possible, she would like to increase the EU’s target for 2030 has high as 55% in a way that would not hurt the bloc’s economy.

Climate policy experts urged the EU not to delay its decision on tougher emissions targets for 2030 until next fall.

“All eyes are now upon the European Union and the EU Council meeting,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We expect the EU’s national leaders will signal their intention to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest. But we are concerned by indications that the EU might postpone the decision to raise the ambition of its 2030 target until next October. Let us be clear, it’s essential for the EU to make such an announcement no later than the end of the first quarter of 2020.”

Meyer, who has observed climate negotiations for almost 30 years, said the joint statement reached between then-President Barack Obama and China in 2014 paved the way for the successful Paris climate agreement in 2015.

With the EU and China set to hold a summit in September, Beijing would need time to ratchet up its own climate plans before that, he said.

“The EU has to go first (on climate), because it has the responsibility and the capability,” said Meyer. “I think it will be difficult for China, India or others to enter into a discussion if the EU hasn’t put down this marker first. That’s why waiting till October is too late.”

By The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read