Europe's ambitious Green Deal plan published
Published: 13 Dec 2019

The European Commission published on Wednesday 11 December, a new European Green Deal which sets out a three-decade effort to implement a set of highly ambitious efforts to halve Europe's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

It sets to:

  • improve air quality;
  • decarbonise the energy sector;
  • build more efficient buildings;
  • invest in new technologies;
  • improve transport;
  • adopt a fair transition across all Member States; and
  • create climate-neutral Europe by 2050.

The Communication document aims to deliver the goals of the Paris climate agreement, also recognising the importance of climate change for the European industry, trade and politics, where the environmental concerns among voters were highly demonstrated during this year's European election.

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said for the Guardian "our goal is to become first climate-neutral continent by 2050, slowing down global heating and mitigating its effects. This is a task for our generation and the next, but change must begin right now - and we know we can do it".

"The European green Deal is Europe's new growth strategy. It will cut emissions while also creating jobs and improving our quality of life. It is the green thread that will run through all our policies - from transport to taxation, food to farming, industry to infrastructure. We want to invest in clean energy and extend emissions trading, but we will also boost the circular economy and preserve biodiversity".

As well as leading the world on climate action with the proposed emissions target, the EU will delve far more deeply into the root problems that contribute to carbon emissions and cause air pollution. For example, manufacturing, where in previous decades the EU was content to set targets for recycling rates, where, under the new European Green Deal, regulators would set specific standards on the manufacturing of goods to create a circular economy and phase out unnecessary waste before it is created.

Air pollution would be tackled through tougher air quality requirements, and energy targets would be significantly raised to increase the production of energy from renewable sources.

In addition, from 2021 it is aimed that at least 40% of the budget for the common agricultural policy and 30% of fisheries subsidies would be diverted to tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, instead of contributing to higher emissions and degradation of biodiversity, as many of these subsidies currently do.

On Thursday 12 December the European leaders met at a summit in Brussels to agree on the terms of the implementation of the Green Deal. The majority of the EU countries support the effort, however, Hungary, Poland (which currently relies 80% on coal to produce electricity) and the Czech Republic are currently refusing to sign up due to the suspected extremely high costs and lack of support from the bloc to implement the new measures.

Reaching an agreement across all Member States at the summit is crucial for the implementation of the new measures across the bloc, as well as for Charles Michel who became the President of the European Council earlier this month.

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