Europe Offers Vision for a Carbon-Free Future, But Big Barriers


BRUSSELS — Europe Wednesday Ambitious plan for a sharply decarbonised future Over the next nine years, it marks the start of a tough and grueling two-year negotiation between the industry, 27 countries and the European Parliament.

The political significance of the effort put forward by the European Commission, the EU bureaucracy, is beyond doubt. It places Brussels at the forefront of the world’s efforts to decarbonize and achieve the goal of a carbon-free economy by 2050. Brussels made the following commitments to force the issue: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 Compared to 1990 levels.

Although the European Union produces only 8 percent of current global carbon emissions, its cumulative emissions since the beginning of the industrial age are among the highest in the world. It also sees itself as an important regulatory force for the world and hopes to set an example, invent new technologies it can sell, and provide new global standards that can lead to a carbon-neutral economy.

US pledges to reduce emissions 40 to 43 percent in the same period. The UK, which will host COP-26, the international climate negotiations, in November, 68 percent reduction. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, said it only targets. peak emissions until 2030.

“Europe was the first continent to declare climate neutral in 2050, and we are now the first to put a concrete roadmap on the table,” commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

Frans Timmermans, Commission vice-president for the environment and Europe’s ‘Green Deal’, acknowledges the difficulty of this challenge. We will ask many of our citizens,” he said. “We will also ask many of our industries, but we are doing this for a good cause. We do this to give humanity a fighting chance.”

Mr. Timmermans sees these proposals as fundamental to creating a new economy. “In terms of the direction Europe is taking, it may actually be of the same nature as the domestic market or the euro,” he said.

The EU target of 55 percent, down from 40 percent by law in June, has led to a significant setback by industry, lobby groups, and some member states that have traditionally been more dependent on fossil fuels, particularly in poorer Central Europe. So the Commission has worked for ten years to create incremental tokens for industry, including free carbon credits and millions of euros in financial aid.

Brussels has also made eco-friendly investments an important part of its conditions for countries using the coronavirus recovery fund. Of course, while environmentalists praise Brussels for its efforts, others say it doesn’t go far enough and relies too heavily on the development of new technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

One of the key proposals announced Wednesday is the overhaul of the European carbon market, known as the Emissions Trading Scheme, where major carbon producers such as steel, cement and electricity directly pay for their carbon emissions.

Another central but controversial proposal is a carbon cap adjustment tax to target goods manufactured outside the bloc so that European companies bearing the cost of decarbonization are not disadvantaged by importing cheaper than companies that do not.

This proposal, which will be implemented gradually from 2023, was not welcomed by many countries trading with Europe, including the United States. If accepted, an appeal can be made to the World Trade Organization.

hundreds of pages proposed laws A slogan that the commission calls “Fit for 55”, which some joke about, would be more appropriate for a yoga studio will be sharply debated as a slogan and will inevitably be changed before it becomes binding on the 27-member bloc.

There are concerns that the poor will pay an unfair portion of the cost of decarbonisation, and that it will be seen as an elite project and spark further political backlash from populist parties and groups, such as the climate-related “yellow vests” protests in 2018. Increase in French gasoline prices.

This was a warning repeated by Pascal Canfin, the French head of Parliament’s environmental committee, warning that the expansion of the carbon market to heating and fuel could spark protests. We experienced this in France,” he said. “He gave us the yellow vests.”

But the proposals also include a Social Climate Fund raised from these new taxes, which could provide up to 70 billion euros (about $83 billion) to help governments help the people most affected.

Simone Tagliapietra of Bruegel, a Brussels-based economic think tank, said that without new legislation, Europe would only reduce its emissions by 60 percent by 2050 instead of achieving carbon neutrality.

12 legislative proposals Wednesday’s proposals are designed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas; Increase the use of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and hydropower, to at least 38.5 percent of all energy by 2030; pushing faster development of electric cars with much tighter CO2 limits and hoping to end sales of all internal combustion cars by 2035 (a goal some countries like France believe are too stringent); and to support clean energy options for major pollutants, aviation and shipping. A carbon market for road transport and buildings will be established for the first time.

Heating and cooling of transport and buildings account for 22 percent and 35 percent of all EU carbon emissions, respectively. said Tagliapietra. But creating a separate market for them will be difficult politically because it will increase fuel costs for families and small and medium businesses, he said.

The European Union said it was “the first major economy in the world to begin translating the goal of climate neutrality into real-world policy action.” “But if there is one principle that should guide the negotiations over the next two years, it’s definitely the climate justice principle.”

While trying to ensure that the impact of the transition is socially just, both domestically and internationally, “it becomes the most important element for its long-term success,” he said.

Mr Timmermans said it was “the task of the Commission to demonstrate that this leads to solidarity and justice in this transition”.

“If we can prove it, I think there will be less resistance. If we can’t prove it, I think the resistance will be huge.”

It will also be important to foster technological development in a Europe that often lags behind the US and China in bringing new ideas to market.

“Climate action and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO of Dutch-based lighting company Signify NV.

That’s why the new law package is “very important,” he said. It will accelerate the deployment of innovative technologies that reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.”

Monika Pronczuk Contributing reports from Brussels and Jack Ewing from Frankfurt.


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