New EU chief makes bold climate pledges

Ursula von der Leyen’s ambitions to strengthen carbon-cutting goals will need support from European Union member states.

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German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen will be the next president of the European Commission, and has put climate change at the top of her agenda. Von der Leyen was narrowly elected on 16 July by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and will be the first woman to take the helm of the European Union’s executive branch.

In a speech she delivered in parliament a few hours before her election, von der Leyen said that she intends to make climate and the environment top priorities in all EU policy areas. She pledged to strengthen the EU’s short-term goal on greenhouse-gas emissions from a 40% reduction by 2030 to at least a 50% cut, relative to 1990 levels. The EU will also take the lead in forthcoming international climate negotiations and will encourage other major economies to increase their ambitions by 2021, she said.

Von der Leyen is also set to announce a ‘Green Deal for Europe’ in her first 100 days in office, which would include a law to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050. “I want Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world,” she said.

By: Quirin Schiermeier/ Nature News

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