Germany will use its upcoming presidency of the European Union to steer the bloc towards a climate-friendly economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the country's environment minister said on Tuesday.
"We always have to keep the big picture in mind. Europe wants to become the first greenhouse gas-neutral continent by 2050. This is the most crucial thing that we can do for future generations," Svenja Schulze said ahead of a meeting of EU environment ministers.
Germany takes over the rotating EU presidency on July 1 and will chair meetings of EU ministers until the end of the year.
The European Commission has said spending from its proposed 750 billion euro ($846.38 billion) coronavirus recovery fund must "do no harm" to the bloc's green goals. It has earmarked funding for electric vehicles and low-carbon hydrogen fuel - areas also in line for support from Germany's national stimulus package.
Schulze called the Commission proposal a "good basis" for the EU's economic recovery, which she said must be "socially fair and ecologically sound".
She said priorities during Germany's presidency would be agreeing an EU biodiversity strategy, a law to make long-term emissions targets legally binding, and increasing the bloc's 2030 climate target to a 50 percent or 55 percent emissions reduction against 1990 levels.
Tough talks lie ahead. Bulgaria said on Tuesday it could not achieve a higher 2030 climate goal, while Slovenia called the Commission's biodiversity plan to protect 30 percent of EU land "rather impossible".
The EU had hoped to coax China, the world's biggest emitter, into raising its emissions-cutting ambitions at a joint summit in Leipzig in September, ahead of a crucial UN climate summit in November.
But with both events delayed, the EU's immediate climate focus has shifted to rebuilding its virus-battered economy without compromising its green goals. ($1 = 0.8861 euros)