European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has officially backed plans to increase the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 55 per cent from 1990 levels, as she announced a raft of climate priorities in her maiden State of the Union address to European lawmakers last week.
Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, von der Leyen emphasised that pushing the EU’s existing carbon reduction target of 40 per cent to a more stretching 55 per cent by 2030 was “ambitious, achievable and beneficial for Europe”, and would enable to bloc to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. “I recognise that this increase from 40 to 55 is too much for some and not enough for others,” she said in her speech, designed to set out the Commission’s priorities for the year ahead. “But our impact assessment shows that our economy and industry can manage it.”
Lawmakers in European Parliament are set to vote on the long-debated climate proposal – which is believed to be supported by a dozen of the EU’s 27 member states – at a plenary session in early October. Should the proposals secure approval from MEPs and Member States, von der Leyen said the EU would revise all its climate legislation by next summer to comply with the new 55 per cent emissions reduction target. “We will enhance emissions trading, boost renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, reform energy taxation,” she said. “But the mission of the EU Green Deal involves much more than cutting emissions. That is important, but it is about making systemic modernisation across our economy, society and industry. It’s about building a stronger world to live in.”
Von der Leyen confirmed that 37 per cent of the Commission’s proposed €750bn Covid-19 recovery package would go towards EU Green Deal objectives, and that 30 per cent of the fund would be raised through green bonds.
Hydrogen production, electric charging points, fossil-free steel production and sustainable construction were all areas singled out by von der Leyen as contenders for €750bn package.
She also reiterated the commission’s plans to introduce a carbon border tax on imported goods, envisaged as a means of avoiding ‘carbon leakage’ by discouraging more carbon intensive goods from abroad flooding the EU market. She said the plans would help drive a “level playing field” as the EU attempted to drive a green recovery from the coronavirus. “Carbon must have its price, because nature cannot pay this price anymore,” she said. “The carbon border adjustment mechanism should motivate foreign producers and EU importers to reduce their emissions while ensuring we level the playing field in a World Trade Organisation-compatible way.”
Meanwhile, von der Leyen said, the bloc would embark on “high ambition coalitions” dedicated to fighting deforestation and supporting nature preservation – including an ongoing push to create protected areas in Antarctica which she dubbed “one of the biggest acts of environmental protection in history”.
Source – European Commission