“To deliver the European Green Deal, there is a need to rethink policies for clean energy supply across the economy, industry, production and consumption, large-scale infrastructure, transport, food and agriculture, construction, taxation and social benefits.” – The Green Deal.
Europe’s New Green Deal could make it the first continent to target zero emissions by 2050 according to the article, “Your guide to Europe’s Green New Deal” by Madeliene Cuff.
EU leaders adopting the ‘Green Deal’ released by the European Commission will fully decarbonize the union in the next 30 years while creating green jobs in the new low-carbon industries.
The release of the plan comes with the UN climate conference in Madrid and just after UK’s general elections which will have major implication for businesses across Europe, Cuff says.
The heart of the Green deal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. To make the target binding to future administrations, the EU is proposing a Climate Law that will come out by March 2020.
The law will: “set out a clear vision of how to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, set clearly the conditions for an effective and fair transition, provide predictability to investors, and to ensure that the transition is irreversible” (The European Green Deal, 2019).
EU’s 2030 Emissions target.
Between 1990 and 2018, the European Union had reduced its emissions by 23%, while the economy grew by 61%. But with current policies, it will only cut emissions by 60% by 2050. By 2020 it plans to increase its emissions cut to at least 50% for 2030, and 55% compared to 1990 (the European Green Deal, 2019). Experts agree that these actions will accelerate emission cuts in line with the 2050 net-zero emissions goal.
Here are some of the Highlights in the EU’s Green Deal:
Carbon Border Tax
Cuff in her article has highlighted some of the key points of the Green Deal such as the Carbon border tax in a “bid to protect EU industries from being undercut by climate laggards” (Cuff, 2019).
According to the Green Deal, these are countries with lower ambitions for emissions or EU products replacements that are more carbon-intensive imports when this happens, the EU will propose a carbon border adjustment for selected sectors to reduce the risk of carbon leakage (The Green Deal, 2019).
More ambitious adaptation strategy to climate change
Strengthening efforts on climate-proofing, resilience building to influence public and private investments which would include nature-based solutions. It’s also important that climate change is integrated when into businesses, investor, cities and citizen’s risk management practices
Further decarbonizing energy.
Production of energy accounts for 75% of emissions and such it should be prioritized. A solution would be to transition to renewable sources while rapidly phasing out coal and decarbonising gas. Energy suppliers need to be secure and affordable for consumers and businesses a well and for this to happen there should be a fully integrated and digitalised European energy markets.
A shift to a circular economy
Yes, a shift to a circular economy that reduces the extraction of materials and encourages more recycling and extends producer responsibility.
Around half of the emission and 90% biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food. From 1970 to 2017, the annual global has extraction has tripled. Although the EU has shifted this activity still accounts for 20% of emissions and only 12% of the materials used are being recycled.
There is potential for low-emissions technologies and circular economy to create new jobs. This will include the creation of a sustainable products policy to support the circular design of all products to reduce and reuse materials before recycling them, prevent environmentally harmful products from being placed in the EU markets, and more importantly, strengthening of extended producer responsibility.
Sectors covered will be those that are resource-intensive such as textiles, construction, electronics, and plastics. This will also include electronic producers to provide consumers “right to repair” options in order to curb the obsolescence of devices.
Renovation wave of public and private buildings to reduce energy and material costs. Buildings account for 40% of the energy consumed. Although renovation poses a challenge, however, it can lower energy bills and can boost the construction sector and supports local SME’s and local jobs.
Reducing emissions from transport sector composing of road, rail, aviation, and waterborne. To achieve climate neutrality by 2050 a 90% emissions reduction is needed. This can be achieved through transferring some of the inland freight by road to railways and inland waterways, ending fossil-fuels subsidies including aviation and maritime fuels, transitioning to low-emissions vehicles.
Farm to fork strategy. Designing a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food production systems that reduce pollution, fewer amounts of natural sources, farming and manufacturing practices that do not harm biodiversity. The commission proposes that at least 40% of the agricultural policy budget and at least 30% Fisheries fund would contribute to climate action.
A ‘Just Transition’ for sustainable finance. To achieve the Green Deal ambitions the commission will invest €260 billion or around US$289 to achieve the current 2030 energy targets. This amount will be sustained over time and will require investments both from the public and private sectors (The Green Deal, 2019).
Cuff writes that these funds will “help member states manage the economic cost of the transitions – a mechanism seen as critical to securing support for the plan from carbon-intensive member states in Eastern Europe.”
She adds that many in the green business sector remain nervous about how the strategy will translate into concrete action in the long-term as Europe is off track with its current 2030 decarbonization targets and meeting the 2050 goals require immediate and real actions.
Citing Nick Molho, Aldersgate Group Executive who says that for the Green Deal to be effective it needs a near-term measure to accelerate emission cuts in the buildings, transport, and energy, as well as greening the financial system (Cuff, 2019).
Although the Green Deal is still away from being an EU policy, the commission is sending a clear signal that the environment it will remain at the top of Europe’s political and policy agenda (Cuff, 2019).
Another article, “Europe’s Ambitious Green Deal” presents how this will affect the transportation and shipping companies and other industries operating in Europe in their plan to prevent ‘carbon leakage.’
Transportation and shipping companies will likely to register their vessels and acquire permits in order to dock and the number of vessels operating could be reduced, the article says. (Europe’s Ambitious Green, 2019).
To preserve the environment, the EU can continue to ban all pesticides that harm their native bee population.
In Germany, they are working to convert their coal-burning local train networks to eco-friendly options. While in France, the recent ban of single-use plastic will see a change in the consumer’s habits. France also plans to use at least 65% biodegradable materials by 2025 (Europe’s Ambitious Green, 2019).
The European Union’s Green Deal shows us a better alternative for a sustainable future. There are so many opportunities and possibilities from the new green technology and innovation when nations and economies come together.
It also gives us a peek of what the green economy or industry looks like ushering us into a new era. It is good to see that leaders and decision-makers are taking hold of these opportunities and hopefully more will follow suit.