19 December 2019
European Commission Launches Green Deal to Reset Economic Growth for Carbon Neutrality
Photo Credit: Lynn Wagner
story highlights

The European Green Deal aims to deliver “the first carbon-neutral continent” by 2050.

The roadmap also forms part of the EU’s long-term strategy to be presented to the UNFCCC in 2020.

In addition to introducing more ambitious emissions targets, the plan seeks to drive policy reforms aimed at making Europe the frontrunner in climate-friendly industries, green technologies, and green financing, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

The European Commission has launched an ambitious roadmap termed the Green Deal that aims to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Presenting the plan to European institutions, EC President Ursula von der Leyen described the Green Deal as Europe’s “man on the moon moment,” noting that it provides an overarching vision as well as 50 concrete actions for a new growth strategy that “gives more back than it takes away.”

The Green Deal roadmap, which was released on 10 December 2019, seeks to design a set of “deeply transformative policies” at regional and national level across eight key areas: increased climate ambition for 2030 and 2050; clean, affordable and secure energy; a clean and circular economy; energy and resource-efficient buildings; sustainable and smart mobility; a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly “farm to fork” food system; preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity; and zero pollution for a toxic-free environment.

The European Green Deal is at the heart of the Commission’s strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and related policy priorities that include refocusing the European Semester process of macroeconomic coordination to integrate the SDGs, and placing sustainability and the wellbeing of citizens at the heart of the EU’s policymaking and action. Related policy and legislative instruments to be presented by the European Commission in 2020 include the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the new Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food, and proposals for pollution-free Europe.

The roadmap also forms part of the EU’s long-term strategy to be presented to the UNFCCC in 2020. A cornerstone of the new Strategy will be the adoption of the first European ‘Climate Law’ by March 2020. In addition to introducing more ambitious emissions targets, the plan seeks to drive policy reforms to make Europe the frontrunner in climate-friendly industries, green technologies and green financing.

Stressing the importance of leaving no one behind, von der Leyen reported that the Commission aims to mobilize EUR100 billion in funding for a proposed “Just Transition Mechanism” targeted at the most vulnerable regions and sectors.

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans presented the roadmap at the Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference. He noted that in the face of a “climate and environmental emergency,” the Green Deal aims to transform the current economic model by setting targets 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.”

An estimated additional EUR 260 billion, or about 1.5% of the EU’s GDP in 2018, is required for the 2030 climate and energy targets alone. The Green Deal roadmap includes proposals for generating more financing, including: developing a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to integrate the mobilization of green financing with an improved enabling framework conducive to green investment; introducing a 25% target for climate mainstreaming across all EU programmes, and doubling the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) climate target from 25% to 50% by 2025.

In the event that differences in levels of ambition worldwide continue to persist “as the EU increases its climate ambition,” the Green Deal envisions “a carbon border adjustment mechanism” to reduce the risk of carbon leakage for selected sectors. 

On 12 December 2019, the European Council released final conclusions stating that one member State, although supporting the 2050 goal, “at this stage cannot commit to implement this objective as far as it is concerned.” The Council expects to resume consideration of the road map in June 2020. [Publication: European Commission Communication on the Green Deal] [Publication: Annex to the European Green Deal Annex – Roadmap and Actions] [European Commission Press Release]  [Publication: The European environment – state and outlook 2020 report by the European Environment Agency] [Video of EC President presentation]

related posts