Europe

EU just unveiled a one trillion euro plan to battle climate change

Young people appeal for global action on climate change at a rally in front of the European Union's headquarters in Brussels on 20 September, 2019. Source: AAP

The EU says the bloc needs to invest massively to avert a "climate crash" and has detailed how it plans a push to cut net emissions to zero by 2050.

The European Union's executive has unveiled plans to leverage up to one trillion euros ($A1.6 trillion) in the next decade to support its ambitious climate goals, aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made climate action a key priority.

Last month she unveiled her flagship "European Green Deal," aimed at adapting the EU's economy to whittle down the bloc's net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Around half of the projected sum is to come from EU funds, which should encourage private investors and member states to stump up the remainder, according to the commission.

The Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, unveiled on Tuesday, foresees 7.5 billion euros ($A12.1 billion) in new EU funding from 2021-27.

Further resources would be transferred from existing budget pots, while member states would have to co-finance projects, generating a funding capacity of 30 billion euros ($A48 billion) to 50 billion euros ($A81 billion), the commission projects.

Climate activists block the rail line to the coal-fired power plant Jaenschwalde, near Cottbus in Germany, 30 November 2019.
Climate activists block the rail line to the coal-fired power plant Jaenschwalde, near Cottbus in Germany, 30 November 2019.
AAP

The money will provide help for regions particularly reliant on polluting fossil fuels such as coal, peat or shale gas.

Almost 237,000 people work in coal-related activities across the EU, with a further 16,000 in peat extraction and the oil shale industry, according to the commission.

"We know that you face a steeper path to climate neutrality," said commission Vice President Frans Timmermans as he presented the plan to the European Parliament.

The proposals were welcomed by EU lawmakers, although some sounded a note of caution.

Poland is particularly reliant on polluting coal technology and refused to back the goal until further details on how the transition would be financed were made public.

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