Saturday

11th Jul 2020

Green Deal

EU climate law slammed for delaying action

  • Today's EU climate law is unprecedented (Photo: Tate Kieto)

The European Commission will unveil on Wednesday (4 March) the first-ever EU climate law - to make its goal of reaching climate-neutrality by 2050 irreversible and legally-binding for all member states.

However, the proposal has failed to improve the target for emissions cuts in 2030.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Instead, the commission will maintain the framework adopted in October 2014 - at least 40-percent emission cuts by 2030 - until there is a new risk assessment in place.

By September of this year, the commission will review possibly upping the 2030 target, towards 50 to 55 percent emissions cuts, according to the leaked draft of the EU's new climate law - seen by EUobserver.

This analysis will be based on a "comprehensive impact assessment", that will take into consideration all national energy and climate plans that are due to be submitted under the Paris Agreement.

However, only 11 out of 27 member states have submitted their national strategies - those from France, Luxembourg, Germany or Spain are still missing.

Speed up

A dozen member states - Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden - have urged the commission to speed up their assessment and propose a new 2030 target "by June at the latest".

In a letter sent on Tuesday (3 March) to the commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, they write that "the EU can lead by example and contribute to creating the international momentum needed for all parties to scale-up their ambition".

The EU-China summit scheduled for September and the United Nation climate talks (COP26) in Glasgow taking place in November will be two major opportunities to show EU's long-term strategy.

"No other major economy is prepared to take the lead to ensure an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement," they said.

According to the chair of the parliament's environmental committee (ENVI), Pascal Canfin, "Europe cannot afford to go to Glasgow without an updated target for 2030".

"The German presidency [of the European Council] and the role of [Chancellor Angela] Merkel will be key in all scenarios if we want the climate law to be passed before COP26," he said.

30 years away

Experts stressed that global emissions must start dropping quickly if the EU wants to meet the Paris Agreement's goals to keep global temperatures as close as possible to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

"But even a 55 percent target in 2030 still leaves a lot of the hardest reductions to be made in just 20 years before 2050," said Thorfinn Stainforth, a policy analyst at the think tank Institute for European Environment Policy (IEEP).

Most environmental NGOs, such as WWF and Greenpeace, think that Europe should commit to at least 65 percent emissions cuts by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement.

However, the commission's proposal mainly focussed on the 2050 target, which has been criticised for not responding to the climate emergency - recently declared by the parliament.

According to Molly Walsh, climate justice campaigner for NGO Friends of the Earth Europe, "a target 30 years in the future exhibits a 'wait and see' attitude to ending Europe's dangerous dependency on fossil fuels"

Similarly, Sebastian Mang, EU climate policy adviser from NGO Greenpeace said that "governments and corporations are deflecting urgent action by latching on to distant targets that primarily commit future generations".

In addition, the draft law states that the commission will be in charge of reviewing the bloc's climate targets every five years - starting in 2023.

To do so, the commission will adopt so-called "delegated acts", which allow the EU's executive body to review the targets without having the full process of negotiations with the parliament and member states.

After the proposal is announced on Wednesday, it will be discussed by the parliament and member states.

Opinion

Roll out red carpet - or recycle it? Green Deal's EU blindspot

In Europe the rate of recycling carpet is shockingly low at 1-3 percent. Recyclers stay away from old carpets because they don't know which (potentially dangerous) chemicals they contain, or because they are very complex due to multiple materials used.

Agenda

EU climate law and Thunberg visit This WEEK

The European Commission will on Wednesday unveil the first-ever EU climate law, while environmental activist Greta Thunberg is in Brussels to meet with the college of commissioners and MEPs. Environmental ministers will also gather to discuss future climate developments.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

Opinion

How a Croatian gas project exposes Green Deal hypocrisy

The EU Commission is pushing a wave of controversial gas infrastructure projects, in parallel to its much-touted Green Deal. One of those a flagship project of the Republic of Croatia, who currently chairs the EU presidency.

Thunberg dubs new EU climate law 'a surrender'

"Nature doesn't bargain, and you cannot make deals with physics", activist Greta Thunberg, and a group of 30 youth environmentalists warned, after dubbing the unprecedented EU climate law 'a surrender' for ignoring a carbon budget.

News in Brief

  1. Citizens' perception of judicial independence drops
  2. Irish finance minister voted in as eurogroup president
  3. Italy's League party opens office near old communist HQ
  4. 'Significant divergences' remain in Brexit talks
  5. Germany identifies 32,000 right-wing extremists
  6. WHO to hold probe of global Covid-19 response
  7. China accuses Australia of 'gross interference' on Hong Kong
  8. EU to let Croatia, Bulgaria take first step to join euro

Opinion

Covid-19 derails Germany's EU presidency climate focus

Action on climate change was long-slated as the priority for Germany's six-month presidency of the European Union which starts tomorrow. But as Europe struggles to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, is Germany really going to maintain momentum on climate?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  2. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  3. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds
  4. MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform
  5. If EU wants rule of law in China, it must help 'dissident' lawyers
  6. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  7. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  8. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us