Smog hovers over Brussels, Belgium, which is home to the European Union. The E.U. says it will miss its targets for reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases by 2030 based on the progress made so far. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

The European Union said Wednesday that it will probably miss its target for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030, dealing a blow to Europe’s efforts to be a leader in the fight against climate change.

The European Environment Agency said existing measures put the E.U. on course to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming pollutants by 30 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

The 28-nation bloc is aiming for a reduction of 40 percent by 2030, and some leaders have called for this target to be raised to 55 percent, with a long-term goal of ending nearly all new emissions by 2050.

“Looking ahead, the current rate of progress will not be enough to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets,” the agency said in a report.

The report was released as officials from almost 200 countries meet in Madrid, Spain, for United Nations climate talks. The European Commission is expected to present its long-term plan for tackling global warming next week.

Environmental campaigners said the E.U. should step up its efforts to ensure that the aim of the 2015 Paris climate accord of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century remains possible.

“Current E.U. leaders are the last generation that can prevent the climate breakdown,” said Wendel Trio, director of the campaign group Climate Action Network Europe. “Citizens want them to act now, and not in 30 years.”

A separate study published Wednesday by a group of international scientists found that both the European Union and the United States saw emissions drop 1.7 percent from 2018 to 2019, but China saw a 2.6 percent increase and India had a 1.8 percent rise.


Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives in Lisbon, Portugal, on her way to climate talks in Madrid. (Armando Franca/AP)

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg said the study showed that “instead of the drastic reductions desperately needed, our CO2 emissions keep increasing.”

“We’re still moving fast in the wrong direction,” the teen activist said in a tweet. Greta is expected to travel to Madrid for a mass protest Friday outside the climate talks.

Nonprofit and activist groups will also hold a week-long “Social Summit” at a university in Madrid beginning Saturday to push for greater and fairer action against global warming.

Pope Francis, who has made caring for the environment a hallmark of his papacy, also waded into the debate by sending a message to the Madrid talks questioning if there’s the “farsighted” political will to deal with climate change.

Climate change is a “challenge of civilization,” said Francis in the December 1 message made public by the Vatican on Wednesday. He added that, “sadly,” awareness is still weak about the need to work harder for “our common home.”

In the message, Francis says that what’s needed is “clear, farsighted and strong political will.”