Why do we need a European Climate Law?
The atmosphere is warming, with serious consequences already now for our environment and societies. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial times and limit the negative impacts of climate change, the world needs to rapidly cut its emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases (GHG) to achieve net-zero emissions of CO2 by 2050 and all other greenhouse gases somewhat later in the century.
The EU has already put in place some of the toughest and most ambitious climate legislation in the world and started to modernise and transform its economy in line with its climate goals. Between 1990 and 2018, it reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23%, while the economy grew by 61%. The EU’s comprehensive climate and energy framework for 2030 will bring about further emission reductions across the economy.
However, current policies are expected to only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, meaning that much more remains to be done. In light of the scientific evidence, the increasingly obvious and severe negative effects of climate change, and citizens’ demands for more action, additional measures needs to be taken urgently. Against this background, the European Climate Law sets the ambitious target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050 and a framework for achieving this climate-neutrality objective.
What are the key elements of the Commission’s proposal?
The European Climate Law aims to complement the existing EU policy framework by setting the long-term direction of travel for EU climate policies, providing predictability for investors and businesses on the EU’s commitment, and ensuring transparency and accountability.
The Law sets in legislation the EU’s objective to become climate-neutral by 2050, by cutting emissions and increasing the removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to reach net-zero emissions.
The Law also aims to enhance efforts on adaptation to climate change. In spite of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Europe will continue to face the negative effects of climate change. The upcoming EU Adaptation Strategy and Member States’ adaptation strategies and plans will be essential to address these challenges.
What does the Climate Law mean for existing policies and the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030?
The proposal tasks the Commission to review existing policies and legislation in view of their consistency with the climate-neutrality objective and the trajectory identified.
As part of a two-step approach, the Commission will first assess and make proposals for increasing the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 to ensure its consistency with the 2050 objective. By September 2020, the Commission will present an impact assessed plan to increase the 2030 target to at least 50% and towards 55% compared to 1990 levels in a responsible way, and will propose to amend the climate law accordingly.
To achieve the revised, more ambitious 2030 target, by June 2021 the Commission will then propose reviews of the:
- European Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) Directive;
- Effort Sharing Regulation;
- Land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) Regulation;
- Energy Efficiency Directive;
- Renewable Energy Directive;
- CO2 emissions performance standards for cars and vans;
Several other initiatives in preparation under the European Green Deal will also help achieve the objectives of the Climate Law, including making a proposal for a “carbon border adjustment mechanism” for selected sectors, launching a new EU Adaptation Strategy and the European Climate Pact.
The Commission will support these policy goals with appropriate funding and financing tools:
The European Green Deal Investment Plan, proposed at the start of 2020 will unlock at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade to help finance the climate transition. The InvestEU guarantee will support this by de-risking private funds,
a Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy will aim at redirecting private capital flows to green investments, ensuring that sustainable investments are mainstreamed across our financial system,
The Just Transition Mechanism, and its accompanying Just Transition Fund, proposed in early 2020 will support the most affected regions and sectors ensuring the transition is fair and leaves no one behind. It will help them to modernise and diversify their economies and alleviate the social and economic costs of the transition.
How will the greenhouse gas emission reduction trajectory from 2030 to 2050 be set?
The Commission’s proposal outlines a process for setting out a trajectory from 2030 for net greenhouse gas emissions and removals at EU level to achieve over time the 2050 climate-neutrality objective. The trajectory will inter alia be based on latest scientific evidence and best available technologies. It will take into account cost-effectiveness and economic efficiency, fairness and solidarity across and within Member States and the necessity to ensure that the transition is just and socially fair.
Every five years, the Commission will consider the latest international and scientific developments as well as existing EU policies, legislation and progress made towards the 2050 objectives, to assess whether the trajectory is still adequate or needs to be updated. This process is aligned with the timelines of the ‘global stocktake’ under the Paris Agreement, under which Parties periodically take stock of the implementation of the agreement and collective progress towards its goals.
How can the EU achieve the objective of climate-neutrality by 2050?
The European Commission set out its vision for a climate-neutral EU by 2050 in its communication ‘A Clean Planet for all‘ in November 2018. The in-depth analysis underlying the vision looked at all the key sectors and explored several pathways for the transition. It showed that it is possible for the EU to move to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, using existing and emerging technological solutions, empowering citizens and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance or research, while ensuring social fairness for a just transition.
The transition to climate-neutrality will require action in all sectors, from changing how we generate energy and produce food to how we consume goods and services, to the jobs we hold and the way we travel. Ambitious action will help both protect our planet and improve our quality of life, through benefits such as cleaner air, water and soil; healthier food; more energy-efficient housing; better transport alternatives; and new opportunities for European businesses to take the lead in developing clean products and technologies.
This transition will require significant investments. To this end, the Commission put forward in January 2020 a European Green Deal Investment Plan to mobilise at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade, as well as a Just Transition Mechanism to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, with targeted support for the most affected regions.
Modernising and decarbonising the EU’s economy will stimulate significant additional investment. Today around 2% of GDP is invested in our energy system and related infrastructure. This would have to increase to 2.8% in order to achieve a net-zero greenhouse gas economy. This means considerable additional investments compared to the baseline, in the range of €175-290 billion a year.
This may seem substantial but it is achievable and much better value to society than the cost of inaction which will see climate related damage and health effects take a huge cost on our society. Moreover, inaction leaves us at a competitive disadvantage as neighbouring countries innovate and develop the sustainable technologies of the future.
How are citizens and stakeholders involved?
EU citizens are concerned about climate change and support national and EU action. In the latest Special Eurobarometer on climate change (September 2019), 93% of EU citizens considered climate change a serious problem and 92% agreed that we must make our economy climate-neutral by 2050.
As all parts of society have a part to play in the transition to climate-neutrality, an inclusive and accessible process to exchange best practice and identify actions that contribute to the 2050 objective is an important element of the Climate Law. We all have a duty to act and Europeans have shown their strong will to be part of the change. The European Climate Pact will bring together all of these efforts, involving regions, local communities, civil society, schools, industry and individuals. Today, the Commission has also launched a public consultation on this European Climate Pact, again giving citizens the opportunity to participate in shaping how the Pact will work in practice.
How will the Climate Pact be developed?
The involvement and commitment of stakeholders and the public at large will be crucial for the success of the European Green Deal. The Climate Pact intends to harness exemplary action on the ground and encourage change in the areas where it is so crucial, such as mobility, buildings’ renovation, energy production and consumption, greening of public and private spaces, as well as in our individual and collective choices and behaviour. It aims at offering both the opportunities and the platforms for valuable initiatives to develop and thrive and will be a key part of the just transition for all. This is an unprecedented exercise and we will need everybody to rally behind and bring ideas to the Pact.
The Pact does not start from scratch. There are many existing examples of efforts from civil society to tackle climate change. The Climate Pact will build on this, and encourage an integrated, structured and more proactive approach to awareness raising and stakeholder action at the European level.
Alongside government policies and regulation, there is a role to play for citizens, communities and organisations in all sectors of our society and economy. The Commission has launched an open public consultation on the Pact to give citizens and stakeholders a role in designing new climate actions, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and showcasing solutions that others can follow. The inputs from this public consultation will be instrumental to shape the Climate Pact before its launch later in 2020.
More Than 2.5 Billion Trees to be Conserved, Restored, and Grown by 2030
Companies from across sectors are working to support healthy and resilient forests through the World Economic Forum’s 1t.org trillion tree platform. With the launch of 1t.org’s global pledge process this September, over 20 companies have pledged to conserve, restore and grow more than 2.5 billion trees in over 50 countries by 2030.
The trillion trees goal does not replace net-zero emission programmes – business and industries still need to decarbonize to meet our climate targets. 1t.org was launched to support the growing momentum around nature-based solutions, to mobilize the global restoration community and to empower anyone who wants to play a part. The community shares best practices, promotes responsible forestry practices, and scales solutions to have global impact.
Nicole Schwab, Co-Director, Platform to Accelerate Nature-Based Solutions, World Economic Forum said: “We are at a tipping point. It is our collective responsibility to leave behind a planet that is habitable for future generations. The private sector has a key role to play in bringing their expertise to the table and investing in natural climate solutions, such as restoration. It is encouraging to see more and more companies embracing this needed transition towards net-zero, nature-positive business models.”
The initial wave of companies making global pledges to 1t.org include: Amazon, APRIL Group, AstraZeneca, Brambles, Capgemini, Clif Bar, Daterra Coffee, Eni, HP Inc., Iberdrola, Mastercard, Nestle, PepsiCo, Salesforce, SAP, Shell, Suzano, Teck Resources Ltd., tentree, Travelers, Unilever, UPS, VMware, and Zurich Insurance Group. Their pledges can be viewed here as of Thursday 23 September at 16:15 CEST.
“Pledging to 1t.org was a natural fit for UPS,” said Nikki Clifton, president of social impact and The UPS Foundation. “UPS’s commitment to plant more than 50 million trees by 2030, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, is promoting global equity and well-being for underserved communities in cities and developing countries worldwide. It’s another example of UPS’s 543,000 employees moving our world forward by delivering what matters.”
Companies also work collaboratively through the 1t.org Corporate Alliance to drive impact by committing to leadership, action, integrity, transparency and learning. The alliance allows companies to jointly tackle common challenges and connects companies with 1t.org’s community of innovators, partners and regional chapters.
“1t.org Corporate Alliance discussions have given us valuable insights into how other companies are devising and managing their own restoration and conservation projects. The platform provides a great space for mutual learning and ideas,” said Craig Tribolet, Head of Sustainability Operations, APRIL Group. “1t.org also allows us to share updates on our own journey to champion thriving landscapes, as part of our production-protection approach, and on the progress we have made against our long-term sustainability commitments,” he said.
How Trees Can Play Their Part
Healthy and resilient trees and forests are one part of the efforts needed to combat climate change. Studies have shown trees can reduce urban heat island effects by up to 5°C and energy costs by $7.8 billion a year. Globally, sustainable management of forests could create $230 billion in business opportunities and 16 million jobs worldwide by 2030. From a health perspective, trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants a year, helping to prevent 670,000 cases of asthma and other acute respiratory symptoms annually. The chance of extreme wildfires occurring also decreases dramatically when forests are managed properly by, for example, growing specially-selected tree species in burned areas and using novel planting techniques for resilience to future wildfires.
1t.org encourages all corporations that have set a Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction target to get in touch and submit a pledge.
Paris climate deal could go up in smoke without action
Unless wealthy nations commit to tackling emissions now, the world is on a “catastrophic pathway” to 2.7-degrees of heating by the end of the century, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned on Friday.
This is far beyond the one to 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, agreed by the international community as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The UN chief’s remarks came after the UN’s climate agency (UNFCCC) published an update on national climate action plans (officially known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) submitted by the 191 countries which signed Agreement.
The report indicates that while there is a clear trend that greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced over time, nations must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent disastrous global heating in the future.
The document includes updates to the NDCs of 113 countries that represent around 49% of global emissions, including the nations of the European Union and the United States.
Those countries overall expect their greenhouse gas emissions to decrease by 12% in 2030 compared to 2010. “This is an important step,” the report points out, but insufficient, as highlighted by Mr. Guterres at Friday’s Forum of Major Economies on Energy and Climate, hosted by the President of the United States, Joe Biden
“We need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century…It is clear that everyone must assume their responsibilities”, he emphasized.
70 countries indicated their embrace of carbon neutrality goals by around the middle of the century. If this materializes, it could lead to even greater emissions reductions, of about 26% by 2030, compared to 2010, the report explains.
However, with national plans staying the way they are right now for all 191 countries, average global emissions in 2030 compared to 2010, instead of decreasing, will increase by around 16%.
According to the latest IPCC findings, that would mean that unless climate action is taken immediately, it may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7C, by the end of this century.
“The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a code red for humanity. But it also made clear that it is not too late to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5-degree target. We have the tools to achieve this target. But we are rapidly running out of time”, the UN chief highlighted.
The Secretary General highlighted a particular challenge: energy still obtained from coal. “If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5 degrees – we will be well above 2 degrees. The Paris targets would go up in smoke”.
Mr. Guterres urged the creation of “coalitions of solidarity” between countries that still depend heavily on coal, and countries that have the financial and technical resources to support transitions to cleaner energy sources.
Without pledges and financial commitments from industrialised nations to make this happen, “there is a high risk of failure of COP26”, Mr. Guterres continued, referring to the pivotal UN Climate summit in Glasgow in six weeks’ time.
“G20 nations account for 80% of global emissions. Their leadership is needed more than ever. The decisions they take now will determine whether the promise made at Paris is kept or broken”, he warned.
There’s still time
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, clarified during a press conference that countries can submit or update their national plans “at any time”, including in the run-up to COP26.
The agency highlighted some good news. The new or updated plans included in the report, show a marked improvement in the quality of information presented, for both mitigation and adaptation, and tend to be aligned with broader long-term, low-emission development goals, the achievement of carbon neutrality, national legislative/regulatory/planning processes, and other international frameworks such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN chief was clear that by COP26, all nations should submit more ambitions plans that help to place the world on a 1.5-degree pathway.
“We also need developed nations to finally deliver on the US100 billion commitment promised over a decade ago in support to developing countries. The Climate Finance report published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that this goal has not been reached either”.
A sizeable number of national climate plans from developing countries, which define targets and actions to reduce emissions, contain conditional commitments which can only be implemented with access to enhanced financial resources and other support.
Stop ignoring science
For Mr. Guterres, the fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility.
“No more ignoring science. No more ignoring the demands of people everywhere. It is time for leaders to stand and deliver, or people in all countries will pay a tragic price”.
Act now to slow climate change and protect the planet
The ozone layer – a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth from the harmful rays of the sun – is “on the road to recovery”, the UN chief said on Thursday in his message for the World Ozone Day.
Crediting the Montreal Protocol, which “began life as a mechanism to protect and heal the ozone layer”, Secretary-General António Guterres said that over the course of three decades, “it has done its job well”.
The multilateral treaty to phase out ozone-depleting substances has, by healing the hole in the ozone layer, protected human health, economies and ecosystems.
“The cooperation we have seen under the Montreal Protocol is exactly what is needed now to take on climate change, an equally existential threat to our societies”, he said.
Until the protocol, old equipment such as building insulation foam, fridge-freezers and other cooling systems, were manufactured using ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which leaked the damaging gas into the atmosphere as equipment deteriorated.
Other critical services
This year’s World Ozone Day highlights that the landmark environmental agreement also slows down climate change and helps to boost energy efficiency for cooling products such as freezers, which then also contributes to food security.
“The Montreal Protocol is more than just an example of how multilateralism can and should work, it is an active tool to help meet our global vision for sustainable development”, said the UN chief.
And under the Kigali Amendment to the Protocol, nations have committed to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases used as coolants, which are less harmful than CFCs as they contain hydrogen, but are nonetheless still an ozone risk.
When fully implemented, the Kigali Amendment could prevent 0.4 degrees Celsius of global warming this century.
“Furthermore, as we prepare for the Food Systems Summit this month, we are reminded that the Kigali Amendment can also help us to increase food security”, flagged Mr. Guterres, explaining that by reducing HFCs, increasing energy efficiency and creating more ozone and climate-friendly technologies, “the Kigali Amendment can bring sustainable access to vital cooling services to millions of people”.
These services would reduce food loss in developing countries, where it often spoils before reaching markets.
Getting produce from farmers to where it is needed would, in turn, help reduce hunger, poverty and the environmental impact of the agricultural sector.
Another important benefit of expanding access to safe cooling systems, is to store medicines and vaccines, including those needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment show us that by acting together, anything is possible”, said the UN chief. “So let us act now to slow climate change, feed the world’s hungry and protect the planet that we all depend on”.
The work continues, with scientists still providing the first line of defence.
UNEP leads a joint effort of over 100 governments, businesses and development organizations that supports countries and industry in tackling growing cooling demand, while contributing to the Paris Agreement, Montreal Protocol and Agenda 2030 called the Cool Coalition.
Together with its partners, the Coalition fosters advocacy, knowledge and action to accelerate the global transition to efficient and climate-friendly cooling.
In 1994, through resolution 49/114, the General Assembly proclaimed 16 September as the International Day, commemorating the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.
Afghan crisis: Changing geo-economics of the neighbourhood
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has caused a rapid reshuffle in the geo-economics of South, Central and West Asia. While...
The Role and Place of the Taliban on the Global Map of Islam: Challenges and Threats
The rise to power of the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) in August 2021 has raised a number...
Millions in Yemen ‘a step away from starvation’
The crisis in Yemen, now in its seventh year of war, continues unabated, with thousands of people displaced and millions...
Turkish Economy as the Reset Button of Turkish Politics
Democracy has a robust relationship with economic growth. Barrington Moore can be seen as one of the leading scholars focusing...
South Sudan ‘determined to never go back to war’
South Sudan is “ready to turn a new page” towards greater peace, development and prosperity, Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior said in her speech in the UN General Assembly...
WHO backs Regeneron COVID-19 drug cocktail – with equal access, price cut
The Regeneron antibody drug cocktail – casirivimab and imdevimab – has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of treatments for COVID-19 patients, the...
What, in fact, is India’s stand on Kashmir?
At the UNGA, India’s first secretary Sneha Dubey said the entire Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh “were,...
Intelligence3 days ago
The AUKUS Alliance and “China’s Maritime Governance Strategy” in the Indo-Pacific
Defense4 days ago
AUKUS: Human-made disaster
Europe3 days ago
Europe tells Biden “no way” to Cold War with China
Eastern Europe3 days ago
Ukraine’s EU-integration plan is not good for Europe
Southeast Asia4 days ago
Visit of Vietnamese President to Cuba
Americas3 days ago
AUKUS aims to perpetuate the Anglo-Saxon supremacy
East Asia4 days ago
The Demise of a French Sub Deal: Is China a Threat?
Africa3 days ago
Money seized from Equatorial Guinea VP Goes into Vaccine