The European Commission on Wednesday a broad set of proposals aimed at driving the EU to its targeted ambition to cut emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The proposals span policies across energy, land use, transport and taxation, as well as those aiming to ensure a socially fair transition.
The 2030 target was initially proposed in September 2020 by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, raising the EU ambition from its prior 40% by 2030 goal, with the new level putting the region on track for 2050 climate neutrality.
The introduction of the proposals follows the recent adoption by the Commission of the European climate law, setting into legislation the EU goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The climate law is a centerpiece of the European Green Deal, the EU strategy to transform the region into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. In addition to the 2050 goal, the law set the binding target for the 55% reduction by 2030.
Introducing the new proposals, von der Leyen, said:
“The fossil fuel economy has reached its limits. We want to leave the next generation a healthy planet as well as good jobs and growth that does not hurt our nature. The European Green Deal is our growth strategy that is moving towards a decarbonised economy. Europe was the first continent to declare to be climate neutral in 2050, and now we are the very first ones to put a concrete roadmap on the table. Europe walks the talk on climate policies through innovation, investment and social compensation.”
Some of the proposals include expanding and tightening the EU Emissions Trading System, putting a price on carbon and lowering the cap on emissions for various economic sectors; mandating state spend from emissions trading revenues on climate and energy-related projects, and; strengthening emissions reduction targets for buildings, road and domestic maritime transport, agriculture, waste and small industries. Other measures include setting national targets for member states to expand their carbon sinks to reach the EU goal to remove 310 million tons of CO2 emissions through natural sinks by 2030.
On the energy front, the proposals set a target to produce 40% of energy from renewable sources by 2030, with specific targets proposed for renewable energy use in transport, heating and cooling, buildings and industry. Energy efficiency measures are also included, with a mandate to set binding annual targets for reducing energy use at EU level.
Transport is a key focus area for the proposals, with measures targeting road, aviation and marine. The proposals would require average emissions of new cars to come down by 55% from 2030 only allow sales of zero emission cars from 2035, expand EV charging networks, obligate fuel suppliers to increase levels of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) for aircraft, and promote use of sustainable maritime fuel and zero emissions technologies for ships.
The proposals also include the introduction of a new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, effectively putting a carbon price on imports, aimed at avoiding ‘carbon leakage’ by pushing carbon intensive activities outside of Europe.
In order to promote its goal of a socially fair transition that doesn’t unevenly burden vulnerable households or businesses, the Commission’s proposals include a new Social Climate Fund, aimed at helping help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, heating and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility. The fund would be financed by the EU budget, using a portion of the expected revenues of emissions trading for building and road transport fuels.
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said:
“This is the make-or-break decade in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. The European Union has set ambitious targets and today we present how we can meet them. Getting to a green and healthy future for all will require considerable effort in every sector and every Member State. Together, our proposals will spur the necessary changes, enable all citizens to experience the benefits of climate action as soon as possible, and provide support to the most vulnerable households. Europe’s transition will be fair, green and competitive.”