European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions

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The European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality. With today’s proposals, the Commission is presenting the legislative tools to deliver on the targets agreed in the European Climate Law and fundamentally transform our economy and society for a fair, green and prosperous future.

In a statement, the Commission said that today’s proposals will enable the necessary acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the next decade. They combine: application of emissions trading to new sectors and a tightening of the existing EU Emissions Trading System; increased use of renewable energy; greater energy efficiency; a faster roll-out of low emission transport modes and the infrastructure and fuels to support them; an alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives; measures to prevent carbon leakage; and tools to preserve and grow our natural carbon sinks.

“These proposals are all connected and complementary. We need this balanced package, and the revenues it generates, to ensure a transition which makes Europe fair, green and competitive, sharing responsibility evenly across different sectors and Member States, and providing additional support where appropriate”, the EU executive said.

A Socially Fair Transition

While in the medium- to long-term, the benefits of EU climate policies clearly outweigh the costs of this transition, climate policies risk putting extra pressure on vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users in the short run. The design of the policies in today’s package therefore fairly spreads the costs of tackling and adapting to climate change.

In addition, carbon pricing instruments raise revenues that can be reinvested to spur innovation, economic growth, and investments in clean technologies. A new Social Climate Fund is proposed to provide dedicated funding to Member States to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, new heating and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility. The Social Climate Fund would be financed by the EU budget, using an amount equivalent to 25% of the expected revenues of emissions trading for building and road transport fuels. It will provide €72.2 billion of funding to Member States, for the period 2025-2032, based on a targeted amendment to the multiannual financial framework. With a proposal to draw on matching Member State funding, the Fund would mobilise €144.4 billion for a socially fair transition.

The benefits of acting now to protect people and the planet are clear: cleaner air, cooler and greener towns and cities, healthier citizens, lower energy use and bills, European jobs, technologies and industrial opportunities, more space for nature, and a healthier planet to hand over to future generations. The challenge at the heart of Europe’s green transition is to make sure the benefits and opportunities that come with it are available to all, as quickly and as fairly as possible. By using the different policy tools available at EU level we can make sure that the pace of change is sufficient, but not overly disruptive.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The fossil fuel economy has reached its limits. We want to leave the next generation a healthy planet as well as good jobs and growth that does not hurt our nature. The European Green Deal is our growth strategy that is moving towards a decarbonised economy. Europe was the first continent to declare to be climate neutral in 2050, and now we are the very first ones to put a concrete roadmap on the table. Europe walks the talk on climate policies through innovation, investment and social compensation.”