There have been numerous discussions in the EU within the past months regarding Climate Change mitigation efforts and it is becoming apparent the EU wants to fortify some of its ambitious goals. Some recent events that highlight the emphasis on the EU’s restructuring of its goals, as well as the larger discussion surrounding climate change, include the following:
Event #1: EU State of the Union 2020
On September 17, the European Commission presented its 2030 Climate Target Plan which consists of three major segments: a Communication on Stepping Up Europe’s 2030 Climate Ambition, an Impact Assessment of National Energy and Climate Plans, and an amended proposal on the draft of the European Climate Law. The Commission has proposed a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels—which is significantly higher than its previously proposed 40% reduction target. Through raising its emissions target, the European Council hopes to be on a stronger path to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Since greater investment will be needed in order to achieve this emissions target, the Commission has stated that it plans on reviewing legislation, such as the EU Emissions Trading System, to determine where funding should be allocated. Additionally, the Commission has stated that it wishes to incorporate these goals into its proposed European Climate Law, which will create a legal obligation for the EU to be climate neutral by 2050. Through this State of the Union address and the new goals the Commission has outlined in it, the EU has demonstrated its recognition of the need for an adequate response to climate change and that it plans to take action to ensure that the impacts of climate change are lessened.
Event #2: EU Decision to Allot Funding to an Innovation Fund Through Horizon 2020 Program
The European Commission has further shown commitment to the mitigation of Climate Change through its decision to allot €10 billion towards an Innovation Fund for technologies and flagship programs through the Horizon 2020 Program. The Innovation Fund has the goal of creating clean and innovative technologies that have the ability to drive the market while also ensuring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The deadline to submit a proposal for individuals and companies who believe that they have a technology or project that fits the Fund’s selection criteria is October 29, 2020. Once these projects are reviewed and the winners are selected, the Innovation Fund will “support up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs linked to innovation”. If this funding is not enough for the chosen projects, the projects can request additional funding from the Member State they are a part of.
Event #3: Specific Sectors Still Desire Greater Preventative Behavior from the EU
Despite the strides that the EU has recently made in strengthening its climate change goals, specific sectors and bodies are worried not enough preventative behavior is being taken to comprehensively mitigate its consequences. Insurance Europe lent an especially strong voice to the EU’s climate change discussion and implores the EU to embrace a more “preventative behavior” including “enforcement of risk-adverse policies, such as building codes, flood defenses and avoidance of construction in high-risk zones”. It believes that the EU’s original 2013 strategy was “useful but did not put enough emphasis on the pre-disaster phase”. Given the prevalence and increasing frequency of extreme weather events, Insurance Europe has pointed out the necessity of the EU developing effective adaptation measures that will help to lessen the damage of future events.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Recent events, most notably the EU’s State of the Union 2020 address, make the EU’s commitment to achieving targets outlined by the Paris Agreement and IPCC recommendations look promising. If the European Commission does indeed put these greenhouse gas emission goals into legislation, the EU has the potential to be a true trailblazer in climate change initiatives, and, ideally, the EU will inspire other countries and regions of the world to pursue more ambitious climate change goals as well. However, as Insurance Europe has pointed out, this is not to say that there is not still an ample amount of work to be done in the fight against climate change. Development and implementation of more specific adaptation policies will be necessary in order to most successfully mitigate the effects of climate change and prevent further irreversible damage from occurring.
Contact Information for those interested in advocating for EU climate policies:
Phone number for Climate Action Directorate: +3222991111
Directorate-General for Climate Action
Reuters Staff: https://reuters.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
Cabuzel, Thierry. “Innovation Fund.” Climate Action – European Commission, 2020, ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/innovation-fund_en.
“EU Needs More Proactive Climate Change Adaptation Plans – Insurers.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 24 Aug. 2020, uk.reuters.com/article/uk-climate-change-eu-insurance-idUKKBN25K1AW.
“Press Corner.” European Commission – European Commission, 17 Sept. 2020, ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_20_1598.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU Country Manager Brittany Demogenes