Climate and environment: the EU Commission’s new targets for 2030

Camilla Palla

We know change is needed – and we also know it is possible. We are proposing to increase the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55%”, the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her first State of the Union address to the European Parliament. Climate, digital and more. Von der Leyen set out all the cornerstones of the European Commission’s future strategy, starting with health and the fight against coronavirus, social policy and the minimum wage, strengthening the internal market and the Union’s role on the international stage.

Among the initiatives most advocated by the Commission, even more prominent has become the environment and the Green Deal. The President of the Commission has announced that she will review all climate and energy legislation by next summer. The framework will be that of the European Climate Law proposed by the EU executive on 4 March, which aims to transform into law the objective set in the European Green Deal of making Europe’s economy and society climate neutral by 2050. Progress will be monitored every five years, in line with the Paris Agreement.

In her State of the Union address, von der Leyen announced an ambitious new target for 2030. In the light of the outcome of the public consultation on the proposal for a European climate law and the impact assessments carried out on the EU’s economic and industrial system, the European Commission proposed to increase the 2030 target of reducing CO2 emissions to at least 55%, initially set at 40% compared to 1990 levels. In addition, the President of the Commission reiterated that the programme is not only feasible, but also economically and socially sustainable and beneficial for the whole of Europe.

A rather ambitious project, which also has the support of the industrial and business world. Yesterday, a coalition of 157 companies, 21 business associations and investor groups expressed their agreement with a greater commitment to the fight against climate change in an open letter addressed to von der Leyen.

However, the new target cannot be achieved by simply revising the individual national targets. The Commission has presented a new Communication amending the proposed European climate legislation to include the 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 55%. The proposal will entail a substantial revision of several existing legislative tools.

The Commission has announced the revision and expansion of the EU Emissions Trading System, the amendment of the Effort Sharing Regulation and the Land use Emissions Framework, including the involvement of sectors such as road and maritime transport, buildings and the energy sector. All this is expected by June next year.

In particular, the energy sector will require a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030. This will include revisions of various energy legislation such as the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive, the EU Energy Governance Regulation, as well as sectoral legislation such as the Energy Performance of Buildings and Ecodesign Directive.

Another key policy area on which the Commission will intervene is transport, both air and maritime, and also road transport. This is a sector which requires a huge effort, i.e. an increase in the use of renewable energies by 24% within the next 10 years.

Therefore, cross-cutting measures are being discussed, which will affect various sectors of the European economy. To support the necessary investments, the Commission has announced that 37% of Next Generation EU resources will be mobilised for the Green Deal. A new EU renewable energy financing mechanism has also been adopted to facilitate collaboration between Member States in financing and developing renewable energy projects.

The mission of the European Green Deal involves much more than cutting emissions. It is about making systemic modernisation across our economy, society and industry. It is about building a stronger world to live in”, said von der Leyen. She announced that 30% of the 750 billion euros of NextGenerationEU will be raised through green bonds, with the aim of launching “a renovation wave and make our Union a leader in the circular economy“.

The next move is entrusted to the European Council on 24 and 25 September, when the Union’s Heads of State and Government will discuss the new proposals. The next plenary session of the European Parliament, scheduled for the first week of October, will also focus on this issue.

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