BRUSSELS: The European Union's chief executive Wednesday said the bloc should commit to deeper emissions cuts over the next decade, and pledged to use green bonds to finance its climate goals.
With wildfires, drought and collapsing glaciers wreaking havoc around the world, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said ambitious action to tackle climate change could create millions of extra jobs, aiding Europe's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Von der Leyen said the EU should set a target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, against 1990 levels, confirming plans laid out in draft Commission documents previously reported by Reuters.
The EU's current 2030 emissions target is for a 40 percent cut.
Von der Leyen said the upgrade would put EU "firmly on track" for its plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and that Commission analysis had confirmed a 55 percent emissions cut was economically possible.
But she acknowledged the proposal would divide the European Parliament and member states, who must approve the legally binding target but who disagree on how ambitious it should be.
"I recognize that this increase from 40 to 55 is too much for some, and not enough for others," she said in a speech in European Parliament.
The goal will require huge investments in transport, heavy industry and energy - where businesses will also face higher carbon costs under EU plans to revamp its carbon market.
Von der Leyen said 30 percent of the bloc's 750 billion euro coronavirus recovery package of grants and loans, which the EU as a whole will borrow, should be raised through green bonds.
Meanwhile, 37 percent of this package should be earmarked for projects to help industries decarbonize - by swapping coal for low-carbon hydrogen in industry, or installing electric car charging points.
The EU is under pressure to agree its new climate target this year, to meet a deadline for countries to make new pledges under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. So far, no large emitters have done so.