Von der Leyen pledges EU 'green deal' in first 100 days

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Former German Defense Minister and newly-appointed EU commissioner Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during her statement for her candidacy for President of the Commission at the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg, eastern France. -AFP

STRASBOURG, FRANCE - European Commission president nominee Ursula von der Leyen pledged Tuesday to propose a "green deal" for Europe in her first 100 days in office, which would see a carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

"I will put forward a green deal for Europe in my first 100 days in office. I will put forward the first ever European climate law which will set the 2050 target in law," von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

Von der Leyen pledged the European Union will "lead international ambition" on fighting climate change when she delivered a speech to the assembly in Strasbourg, France, which was to vote on her nomination later Tuesday.

At least 24 of the 28 EU member countries have so far pledged to set a target of a carbon neutral Europe by mid century where it emits no more greenhouse gas emissions than it absorbs.

Eastern countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have so far refrained from issuing such a pledge amid concerns about financing their transition away from their dependence on coal and fossil fuels.

Von der Leyen, German defense minister, said the EU must go beyond its 2030 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, compared to 1990 levels, if it is to produce zero net emission by 2050.

That goal was set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Warnings have multiplied since 2015, when 195 countries meeting in Paris sealed a landmark agreement to keep temperature rises well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) warned in October that warming is on track towards a catastrophic 3 or 4 degree rise. -AFP


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