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The EU executive kick-started its plan to set a tougher 2030 emissions target on Tuesday, a move that could help maintain the bloc’s focus on climate change despite pressure to soften its green ambitions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Commission began a public consultation to gather views until June 23 on its options to tighten the EU’s 2030 target to a 50 per cent or 55 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, from the current 40 per cent.

The new target, to be proposed in September, will guide the Commission’s revisions of a suite of EU policies even as it also focuses on a post-coronavirus economic recovery.

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The Commission wants to revise EU regulations on the carbon market, renewable energy and energy efficiency by June 2021 as part of its “Green Deal” vision to decarbonize the bloc’s economy by 2050.

The EU executive has said the coronavirus pandemic does not affect this aim, and suggested it will heed calls from campaigners and investors that economic recovery measures should also accelerate the low-carbon transition.

The Commission has said its Green Deal and digitalization are two central elements of any “intelligent recovery.”

Poland’s government has warned the virus fallout will make climate targets tougher to achieve, while the Czech Republic has called on Brussels to drop its Green Deal.

A group of 37 members of the 705-seat European Parliament asked the three main EU institutions on Monday to postpone new Green Deal legislation and instead focus on agreeing with the bloc’s next multiyear budget to help EU members recover.

Green groups had urged the EU to come up with a new 2030 climate goal by June, to have enough time for EU governments and the parliament to agree on a target before a major UN climate summit scheduled in November.

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