Europe becomes ‘man on the moon’ as it strives to become the first climate neutral continent

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EUROPEAN Green Deal, a plan for Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050, was unveiled by the European Commission at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference COP25 this Wednesday.

The European Green Deal is described as a ‘roadmap’ of policies and measures which range from cutting emissions to investing in research and innovation, as well as preserving Europe’s natural environment.

Headline targets listed in the Green Deal include

  • a 50-55% emissions reduction target for 2030
  • a climate law to reach net-zero emissions by 2050
  • a transition fund worth €100bn
  • a series of new sector policies to ensure all industries are able to decarbonise.

In her speech in the unveiling the Green Deal, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, described the Deal as a ‘man on the moon moment’.

“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – it is a strategy for growth that gives more back than it takes away.

“The Green Deal is, on the one hand, our vision for a climate-neutral continent in 2050 and it is, on the other hand, a very dedicated roadmap to this goal. It is fifty actions for 2050”, Ms von der Leyen stated.

“Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet, to reconcile the way we produce and the way we consume with our planet and to make it work for our people.

“Therefore, the European Green Deal is on the one hand about cutting emissions, but on the other hand it is about creating jobs and boosting innovation.

“Today is the start of a journey. But this is Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment. The European Green Deal is very ambitious, but it will also be very careful in assessing the impact and every single step we are taking.”

New measures alone will not be enough to achieve the Deal’s objectives as the Commission’s own projections suggest that only a 60% emissions reduction can be achieved by 2050 based on current trajectories.

In addition to launching ’50 actions for 2050′, the Commission will work with the member states to step up the EU’s efforts to ensure that current legislation and policies relevant to the Green Deal are enforced and effectively implemented.

Decarbonising the energy industry plays a key part in the Green Deal, citing increase in offshore wind production, addressing energy poverty and smart integration of renewable energy sources as some of the key steps.

The only nation to have opted out from the 2050 net zero target is Poland, which relies 80% of its electricity on coal.

As a part of the Green Deal, the Commission’s future steps ‘on the surface of the moon’ include:

  • Expecting Member States to present their revised energy and climate plans by the end of 2019.
  • Proposing the first European ‘Climate Law’ and adopt an ‘EU industrial strategy’ by March 2020
  • Working with stakeholders on a new initiative on renovation in 2020
  • Presenting a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to help meet the
    additional funding needs
  • Contributing at least 30% of the InvestEU Fund to fighting climate change.

You can read the Commission’s official communication on the European Green Deal here.