Europe Introduces Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Half by 2030

The plan will expand emissions trading to new sectors and increase the use of renewable energy, among other policies.

Jul. 30, 2021
By Paolo DeAndreis

The European Commission has intro­duced its Fit-for-55 pack­age, 13 pro­pos­als for leg­isla­tive actions and tools to reduce car­bon emis­sions within the 27 mem­ber states.

By 2030, Brussels hopes to reduce European Union green­house gas emis­sions by 55 per­cent com­pared to the record-high lev­els recorded in 1990.

We are going to ask a lot of our cit­i­zens. We are also going to ask a lot of our indus­tries, but we do it for a good cause. We do it to give human­ity a fight­ing chance.- Frans Timmermans, vice-pres­i­dent, European Comission

According to the European Commission, achiev­ing the goal of the new car­bon emis­sions pack­age is cru­cial to deliver the European Green Deal and for the con­ti­nent to become cli­mate-neu­tral by 2050.

A new set of rules and a review of exist­ing reg­u­la­tions will enable the nec­es­sary accel­er­a­tion of green­house gas emis­sion reduc­tions in the next decade,” the com­mis­sion wrote. The com­mis­sion’s pro­pos­als will now be dis­cussed by the E.U. mem­ber states and will come into force after it is approved by the European Parliament.

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The Fit-for-55 pack­age includes expand­ing emis­sions trad­ing to new sec­tors, increas­ing the use of renew­able energy to 40 per­cent by 2030, push­ing for more energy effi­ciency and a faster roll-out of low emis­sion trans­port infra­struc­ture.

It also includes new tax­a­tion poli­cies that will encour­age the tran­si­tion of the power gen­er­a­tion indus­try and heavy indus­tries toward cleaner ener­gies, new mea­sures to pre­vent car­bon leak­age, and tools to pre­serve and grow nat­ural car­bon sinks.

Along with the Fit-for-55 pack­age, Brussels also plans to ear­mark €144 bil­lion from the 2025 to 2032 bud­get for a Social Climate Fund, which will help Europeans upgrade their homes to make them more energy-effi­cient.

Frans Timmermans, the vice-pres­i­dent of the com­mis­sion in charge of the Green Deal, intro­duced the new pack­age as the most ambi­tious ever.

We are going to ask a lot of our cit­i­zens,” he said. We are also going to ask a lot of our indus­tries, but we do it for a good cause. We do it to give human­ity a fight­ing chance.”

Along with low­er­ing its own emis­sions, which accord­ing to some esti­mates, account for 6.4 per­cent of total global emis­sions, the com­mis­sion hopes that its new com­mit­ment will affect the plans of the other major global pol­luters.

Europe is the first con­ti­nent to declare that it will be cli­mate neu­tral in 2050, and now we are the very first ones to put a con­crete road map on the table,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s pres­i­dent.

Given the objec­tions raised both by major indus­try asso­ci­a­tions and by envi­ron­men­tal­ists in recent weeks about the incom­ing pro­posal, many observers believe that sev­eral months of tough nego­ti­a­tions can be expected.

Focusing only on reduc­ing the emis­sions might be mis­lead­ing because to counter cli­mate change, there are sev­eral actions that could be put in place – for instance, on water waste, land con­sump­tion, acid­i­fi­ca­tion and so on,” Andrea Muratore, InsideOver magazine’s geopo­lit­i­cal ana­lyst, told Olive Oil Times

Still, the com­mis­sion might have found a way to put its polit­i­cal cap on the cen­tral role the European Union has assumed in the fight against cli­mate change as the United States lags behind while China and India are increas­ing their emis­sions,” Muratore added.

According to Timmermans, the leg­is­la­tion will help cre­ate a new econ­omy, the impact of which is hard to fore­see. He argued that the quick decline of renew­able energy prices is expected to fuel this new green econ­omy, which will require new skills and will be the dri­ver of growth and trade.

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The other mes­sage that comes from the com­mis­sion pro­posal is that invest­ing in alter­na­tive energy and in the activ­i­ties needed to fight cli­mate change mean cre­at­ing a whole new sec­tor, a new mar­ket, with new skills and new oppor­tu­ni­ties,” Muratore added. As some mem­ber states are well ahead on this, the new pro­posal might finally bring a new coor­di­nated effort to the E.U.”

Farmers will play a piv­otal role in the new sce­nario, accord­ing to Timmermans.

I think we need to use the reformed agri­cul­tural pol­icy to put our farm­ers in a posi­tion to be part of that,” he said.

Timmermans added that the new Common Agricultural Policy helps achieve this goal by incen­tiviz­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion prac­tices.

Key to the new pack­age is the review of the exist­ing E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS), which caps the amount of car­bon emis­sions that may be pro­duced and makes indus­tries pay for those emis­sions.

According to the com­mis­sion, the ETS has con­tributed to a 43 per­cent reduc­tion in emis­sions from power gen­er­a­tion and energy-inten­sive indus­tries in the last 16 years. The new ETS will reduce the car­bon cap even more and accel­er­ate its yearly reduc­tion.

However, this plan has been widely crit­i­cized by sev­eral cen­tral European coun­tries, whose heavy indus­tries rely on fos­sil fuels. To help them tran­si­tion to a new energy frame, the Fit-for-55 pack­age pro­vides options for refi­nanc­ing and car­bon cred­its.

A sep­a­rate ETS will also be intro­duced to cover emis­sions from trans­port and build­ings. This is expected to have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the avi­a­tion indus­try and ship­ping, which will be included in the scheme for the first time.

The com­mis­sion has also asked that new cars pro­duced in the E.U. are emis­sion-free from 2035 onward, which has so far been opposed by the continent’s car man­u­fac­tur­ers. The Fit-for-55 pack­age envi­sions a mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion in pri­vate trans­port that will require the instal­la­tion of charg­ing and fuel­ing points through­out the con­ti­nent for elec­tric vehi­cles.

The rev­enues com­ing to mem­ber states from emis­sions trad­ing will have to be entirely spent on cli­mate-friendly and energy-related projects, with a focus on new trans­porta­tion, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and small busi­nesses.

In order to pre­vent European busi­nesses from mov­ing emis­sion-cre­at­ing activ­i­ties out of Europe, the com­mis­sion said it will put a car­bon price on imports of a tar­geted selec­tion of prod­ucts to ensure that ambi­tious cli­mate action in Europe does not lead to car­bon leak­age.”

“[This] will ensure that European emis­sion reduc­tions con­tribute to a global emis­sions decline, instead of push­ing car­bon-inten­sive pro­duc­tion out­side Europe,” the com­mis­sion added. It also aims to encour­age indus­try out­side the EU and our inter­na­tional part­ners to take steps in the same direc­tion.”

According to Muratore, the commission’s plan is prag­matic because the car­bon tar­iff is set to be applied from 2030 onward. That means that the whole pro­duc­tion chain has the time to adapt.”





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