“The fossil fuel economy has reached its limits”, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen declared tis week, as she unveiled cross-border carbon taxes, higher targets for clean power, a hydrogen blitz and accelerated efficiency drives, among ‘concrete’ details in the union’s scheme to cut 55% of its 27 members’ carbon emissions by 2030.
Billed as ‘comprehensive and interconnected’, the “Fit for 55” programme had been mulled over by the Commission since September. Also named the “European Green Deal”, the plan ups the pace on the bloc’s previous goal of achieving 60% emissions cuts by mid-century.
Climate science, energy, land use, transport, taxation, and trade policies all fall explicitly within the beefed up platform’s ambit, the Commission says. Its implications reach far outside the EU, including for Brexit Britain.
New impacts amid the EU’s policy tsunami against carbon include:
- 40% of all energy from renewables by 2030, and more energy efficiency
- aviation’s and shipping’s emissions counted in the Emissions Trading Scheme, with revenues directed at ‘social’ carbon cutting
- setting up a second, stronger ETS exclusive to buildings & road vehicles
- speeding up the roll out of infrastructure for low carbon transport, including H2 refuelling & charge points
- tougher pollution curbs on new cars and vans;
- squaring national taxes with climate goals, including offering tax breaks to clean technologies & closing tax loopholes breaks for private jets;
- requiring marine shipping and air freight operators to burn sustainable fuels
- new protections for wetlands & other natural sinks for carbon.
A new social climate fund will support citizens’ investments in energy efficiency, new heating systems, and cleaner mobility. Per the Commission, it will raise an expected Euro 72 Billion over the seven years to 2032, funded by 25% of the expected takings from the new ETS on buildings and transport.
Documents substantiating the EU Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ drive are here.
“The European Green Deal is our growth strategy that is moving towards a decarbonised economy,” von der Leyen said. “Europe was the first continent to declare to be climate neutral in 2050. “Now we are the very first to put a concrete roadmap on the table.
“Europe walks the talk on climate policies through innovation, investment and social compensation.”
“Getting to a green and healthy future for all will require considerable effort in every sector and every Member State”, opined Frans Timmermans, executive VP for the European Green Deal.
“Together, our proposals will …enable citizens to experience the benefits of climate action as soon as possible, and provide support to the most vulnerable.”
The European Corporate Leaders Group welcomed the plans, but NGOs called for faster carbon cuts and more social justice.
Oxfam’s head of EU affairs Emelien van Roemburg said poverty and climate inequality were both on the up within the bloc.
“The European Parliament and European countries ….must step up ambition by ensuring all EU climate rules contribute to carbon emission cuts of at least 65% in 2030, rather than the current 55%. Only then will we have a package fit for 1.5°C and a safer future for all”.
The European Environmental Bureau, claiming a membership of 170 citizens’ groups across the EU and in accession states, slammed the plan as ‘unfit and unfair’.
Maintaining public subsidies for fossil fuels in Europe at the same time as introducing the new ETS for buildings and transport will de facto shift the cost of pollution from the actual polluters to the final consumer.
“Without a fossil fuel phase-out, the fuel industry will pass on emission costs for buildings and transport to citizens and still keep making immense profits” said Barbara Mariani, the EEB’s policy manager for climate.