Migrant crisis pushes climate change off EU summit agenda

Migrants walk through a field looking for a way to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Europe’s migrant crisis has kicked climate change off the agenda of EU leaders’ talks this week, officials said, prompting accusations from green campaigners that the European Union has given up its leadership on environmental issues.
Summit talks on Thursday and Friday had been expected to discuss December’s Paris Agreement on climate change, which the European Commission hailed as an historic breakthrough.
But it has since said it will not review until the next decade its target for cutting greenhouse gases, even though some EU nations and environmental campaigners say the Paris deal cleared the way for more radical action sooner.
Asked whether the reason for dropping the climate from the agenda was to focus on migration and economics, one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, replied: “In short, yes.”
Another official said European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit talks, “did not want to have a (climate) discussion”.
Tusk’s native Poland, whose economy depends on coal, is seen as the biggest obstacle to any EU agreement to increase the pace of decarbonizing the economy.
Environment ministers, who met in Brussels earlier this month, voiced concern the EU is not being ambitious enough.