It’s Friday, July 24, and the E.U. wants to spend more than half a trillion bucks fighting climate change.

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Following five days of negotiations over the European Union’s economic stimulus package, its leaders emerged earlier this week with $572 billion earmarked to fight climate change — accounting for nearly a third of the package’s total funding over the next seven years.

The recovery deal has been called the “world’s greenest stimulus plan,” and it puts the E.U. far ahead of other major emitters in the effort to slash emissions to net-zero by 2050. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Green, prior stimulus packages passed around the world — including some by individual E.U. countries — prioritized carbon-intensive industries like fossil fuel extraction than for green policies.

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In addition to providing funding for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and electric vehicles, negotiators agreed to consider raising the E.U.’s overall target for emissions reductions by 2030 from 40 percent to as much as 55 percent (relative to 1990 levels). Plus, the deal will create an E.U. climate bank and implement a bloc-wide tax on non-recyclable plastic waste in 2021.

Despite its historic significance, many climate activists have expressed disappointment in the deal. Greta Thunberg called it “vague” and an incommensurate response to the climate emergency — its funds fall far short of the $2.79 trillion that researchers say the bloc needs for rapid decarbonization.

“As long as we keep playing the game on their terms,” Thunberg tweeted, “this is all we’ll get — the leftover breadcrumbs.”

Joseph Winters

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