The European Commission yesterday presented the European Green Deal, a set of initiatives that will be launched progressively by the Commission in the coming years with a view to making Europe the first continent to achieve climate-neutrality between now and 2050.

The European Green Deal provides a roadmap with 50 actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, and to stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution.

This roadmap is the European Commission’s response to one of the main concerns of Europeans. 93% of Europeans consider that protecting the environment is important. Almost 8 in 10 Europeans say that protection of the environment can boost economic growth.

President Ursula von der Leyen said: ‘The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away. It shows how to transform our way of living and working, of producing and consuming so that we live healthier and make our businesses innovative. We can all be involved in the transition and we can all benefit from the opportunities. We will help our economy to be a global leader by moving first and moving fast. 

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans added ‘We are in a climate and environmental emergency. The European Green Deal is an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our people by transforming our economic model. Our plan sets out how to cut emissions, restore the health of our natural environment, protect our wildlife, create new economic opportunities, and improve the quality of life of our citizens. 

To set into legislation the political ambition of being the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the Commission will present within 100 days the first ‘European Climate Law’. To reach our climate and environmental ambition, the Commission will also present the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, a proposal for a Just Transition Mechanism, that will support those regions and citizens most vulnerable to the transition, and a Circular Economy Action Plan including the most sustainable productsin line with the new Industrial Strategy.

The Communication on the Green Deal will also give rise to analysis work to support numerous monitoring actions to be implemented in most economic sectors. The roadmap includes:

  • Proposals to revise upwards EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from the current target of 40% to 50% or 55% prior to the Conference of the Parties at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in November 2020.
  • Proposals to review the Emissions Trading System for the EU energy sector and industrial facilities. There will be an assessment of whether to include emissions from road transport, ships and buildings in the Emissions Trading System. There is also a proposal to review Member State targets for sectors not included in the System.
  • A strategy to promote clean intelligent mobility and proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A strategy to tackle chemical substances, which, along with other actions to address air and water pollution, will contribute to the “zero pollution target” espoused by the President of the European Commission.
  • Farm to fork strategy to improve sustainability in the food production and distribution system.
  • Strategies and actions for mobilisation of public and private investment in the green economy.

Economic investment

The Commission has estimated that achieving the current 2030 climate and energy targets will require €260 billion of additional annual investment, representing about 1.5% of 2018 GDP. The Commission will present in early 2020 a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, which will include specific financing proposals to help meet investment needs. The EU budget and the European Investment Bank will support the plan, along with other national sources of funding. Incentives will also be provided for the private sector to contribute to financing the green transition.

A just transition: nobody left behind

Just Transition Mechanism will support those regions that rely heavily on very carbon intensive activities. It will support the citizens most vulnerable to the transition, providing access to reskilling programmes and employment opportunities in new economic sectors. It is envisaged that a Budget of €100 billion will be allocated to this mechanism.

Main benefits of the European Green Deal

The main aim of the European Green Deal is to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens. Over 400,000 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution. For this reason, the plan includes specific actions to combat air and water pollution, as well as pollution caused by hazardous chemical substances.

The Green Deal seeks to reverse the effects of climate change and protect the environments on all fronts: preventing wildfires, the acidification of waters and melting of glaciers, loss of biodiversity (more than 28,000 species are currently in danger of extinction), and reducing the production of waste, which often ends up polluting seas and oceans.