Ursula Von der Leyen, the new EU Commissioner, revealed a new set of policy initiatives brought forward by the new European Commission as ‘Europe’s man on the moon moment’. The commission has been in office since November 2019 in order to tackle climate change.
The flagship initiative is a climate law which will commit EU Member States to slash emissions to net zero by 2050 and a plan to increase the 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 50% passing to 55% from the current 40% goal.
Known as the Green Climate Deal, the plan includes potential carbon tariffs for countries that don’t curtail their greenhouse gas pollution at the same rate. It also includes:
- A circular economy action plan,
- A review and possible revision of the all relevant climate-related policy instruments, including the Emissions Trading Systems,
- A strategy with a focus shift from compliance to performance (which will reward farmers for managing and storing carbon in the soil, improved nutrient management, reducing emissions, …),
- A revision of the Energy Taxation Directive which is looking closely at fossil fuel subsidies and tax exemptions (aviation, shipping), and
- A sustainable and smart mobility strategy and an EU forest strategy.
Von der Leyen describes the new Deal as ‘a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use’.
On 13 December 2019, the European Council decided to press ahead with the plan presented by the European Commission, with an opt-out for Poland – a move seen by some as positive, but at the same time seen negatively by analysts and scholars.
Activity Rating: *** Moving Forward
The new set of policy initiatives put forward by the European Commission is an important action as it shows and strengthens the role the EU wants to play to tackle climate change and to its commitment to the Paris Agreement. It also sets the bloc on the top of the podium as a leader for reaching zero emissions. Unlike previous policies the new set of policies puts climate change action in the center of EC policies. In other words, the EC is planning to reshape all other policies related to energy, agriculture, mobility, forestry, infrastructure, industry, etc. in a way to enable them to help reach the goals of the Green Climate Deal. Additionally, appointing a vice-president as a Commissioner whose primary responsibility is the Green Climate Deal strongly supports this statement.
The Green Climate Deal came at the same time of the announcement of the European Environment Agency. Analyses show that Member States’ emission reduction projections are not yet in line with the target of 2030, thus hindering the ability of the Block’s commitments to the Paris Agreement. This raises the question whether the EU will be able to achieve its new committed targets for 2050, as well as its 2030 Paris Agreement pledge, or again will fall behind. The comprehensive measures announced in the new plan, as well as Poland’s opt-out of the new commitment, shows that the EU wants to meet its new goals.
Dear Ms. Ursula Von der Leyen,
We would like to congratulate you for your effort in making climate change action the center of your new set of policies and in putting climate change and gas emission cuts as a focus in many of the new upcoming policies of the European Commission. Your action shows the strong commitment of the EU and of Europe in supporting the Paris Agreement, in protecting our environment, and in creating a new sustainable environment in Europe which is supporting a green and clean future for our current future generations. We strongly encourage the EU to give special attention to Poland and to make sure that country will not be left behind but, on the contrary, it will be able to successfully catch up with its peers in the very near future.
We are looking forward to your answer and working on climate action together.
With our respectful and best regards,
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU Manager Ibrahim Abdel-Ati