Plans by the EU to be carbon neutral by 2050 are “unrealistic” and should be abandoned, a candidate to replace Jean-Claude Juncker in Europe’s top job said Tuesday.
Jan Zahradil, president of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE), said Europe should meet existing targets on emissions before making future pledges that he believes many member states will struggle to achieve.
"I would stick with our current commitments,” said the Czech MEP, who was the latest among those vying to become president of the European Commission to appear on Euronews’ Raw Questions.
“I have to be very open when it comes to that call from the Commission and Parliament asking for zero carbon economy until 2050,” he said. “I believe it's nice to say that but it's pretty unrealistic to achieve that."
He said he was not a “climate sceptic” but believed not all the reasons for climate change are man-made.
"I'm not denying the fact that CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change,” he said. “What I'm saying is there are also other minor issues that also have a certain impact on that."
His own son took taken part in recent climate change protests, Zahardil said, describing the demonstrations as “legitimate.”
However, he called teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg “naive.”
Zahradil, whose vision of Europe is “a free conglomerate of cooperating states,” is up against high-profile candidates including Guy Verhofstadt for the top job after this month’s European elections.
"I believe we should be sensitive when it comes to moral and social issues because we are not the same," Zahradil said. "Some societies are more liberal, some are more conservative and we should not just try to put them in one line."