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Governments agree on national climate plan

15:23 18/12/2019

Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and the acting federal government have reached agreement on a national climate plan. The European Commission had set a deadline of 31 December to submit the plan.

The plan has been hammered out using regional climate programmes that had already been approved. The details of the federal plan has not yet been made public, but it includes measures that need to be taken to reduce overall CO2 emissions in the country by 35% by 2030.

This includes the further introduction of low-emission zones in urban centres (Ghent’s begins on 1 January), shifting energy production towards cleaner sources, planting new forests and introducing low-interest loans for energy-efficient renovations.

‘Achievable and affordable’

A source of contention in the discussions was Flanders’ plan, which, according to Flemish environmental minister Zuhal Demir, would miss the 35% target by 2.4%. While Brussels and Wallonia had already put together plans that would see carbon emissions decline by 40% and 55% respectively, they did not want Flanders to rely on their success in missing its own target of 35%.

Demir insists that Flanders’ gap would be made up by future innovations in industry and transport. “The talks went very smoothly and were quite constructive,” she said. “I’m proud of this work because, despite reports that it would be disastrous, we have succeeded in creating an ambitious but also achievable and affordable accord for the European Union.”

In the meantime, the European Council last week announced its intention to become climate neutral by 2050. “Europe will do what it wants, but Flanders is now going to work on the ambitious goal of a 35% reduction,” said Demir. “Setting the sights even higher is not what we need right now. I want to stay realistic.”

Photo, from left: Environment ministers Alain Maron (Brussels), Marie-Christine Marghem (federal), Philippe Henry (Wallonia) and Zuhal Demir (Flanders) at COP25
©Benoit Doppagne/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw