„European Green Deal” – New European Development vision
Despite the year of pandemic, EU climate policy is being successfully developed by the European Commission producing new initiatives and documents in this matter. Just before pandemic outbreak, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen presented a new EU development strategy in December 2019. It was called a proposal of the European Green Deal (EGD). The EC published its communication on the EGD which presented its vision aiming to transform Europe into a climate-neutral in 2050 through legislation and implementation measures, backed up by the finance of un unprecedented scale. It must be stressed that EGD is not only a new climate policy, but also a holistic approach to its objectives, including such issues as biodiversity strategy or circular economy.
Recent years milestones of European climate policy
It was in March 2020 when the European Commission presented its project of the European climate law. The proposal set the EU's 2050 climate neutrality objective into legislation and established the framework needed to reach that goal. The next step was an EC communication “Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition”, published in September 2020. That was a proposal on the European climate law to include a revised EU emission reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, instead of formerly binding 40% compared to emission level of 1990. The proposal was accompanied by an extended analysis elaborated in a special Impact Assessment document. Political options of possible approach changing the reduction policy of EU were elaborated and evaluated. Main solutions considered by the Commission addressed such issues as extension of the EU ETS by inclusion of transport and building sector, EU ETS reform, changes into the existing legislation on renewable energy, energy efficiency and effort sharing regulation (ESR).
Another element included into EGD was the European Climate Pact aimed at involvement of citizens, local communities and NGOs into climate policy efforts and measures, because they can have an important role to play. The Pact promoted cooperation between citizens and organizations at the national, regional and local levels, and also between businesses, trade unions and NGOs.
Fit to 55 Package as a stage of EGD implementation
The consensus of the European Council summit in December 2020 opened the implementation process for the EGD. In its conclusions , the European Council asked the Commission to assess how the economy sectors may contribute to achievement of 2030 target and requested for necessary conclusions accompanied by impact assessment of possible environmental, economic and social effects upon the Member States.
- Revision of the EU ETS (EU Emissions Trading System),
- Revision of the ESR (Effort Sharing Regulation),
- Revision and change of the LULUCF Regulation (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry Regulation),
- Proposal of CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism),
- Revision of MSR (Market Stability Reserve).
Additionally the Commission considers legislative changes into directives such as Renewable Energy Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive, and also revision of the new car emission standards.
Apart from climate, what else is there in EGD?
EGD as an economy strategy, contains not only climate policy, but also other policies and strategies. One of the main parts of the EDG is a new plan regarding circular economy , adopted in March 2020.
This new Plan encloses initiatives concerning the life-cycle of products, starting from the designing phase. Promoting of the circular economy processes is included into the EU Plan. It also contains encouraging sustainable consumption patterns and long life perspective for economy use of resources.
- Designing sustainable products, which will become a norm in the UE;
- Empowering consumers position who will gain an access to reliable information on repair and product durability, helping them to make sustainable choices;
- Focus on resources-consuming sectors with great circular economy potential (measures regarding electronics, batteries, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings as well as food);
- Enhancement of waste policy: removing waste problem through using waste as a valuable raw material circulating in a well-functioning EU market for secondary raw materials.
Another important pillar of the EGD is the “Farm to Fork” strategy to ensure fair, healthy and environmental friendly food system. The European Commission published the “Farm to Fork” strategy in May 2020, calling for different approach to food production. Objectives of the Strategy are embracing such issues as decreasing environmental impacts of food processing sector and retailers, promoting circular economy principles, reducing use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics, sustainable food consumption, affordable high quality food promotion and reducing food waste.
- reduce pesticides use by 50% and diminishing accompanying risk,
- reduce fertiliser use at least by 20%,
- reduce the sale of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 50%,
- introduce organic farming on 25% of total EU farmland.
The Strategy includes measures aiming at ensuring access to healthy food for EU citizens. The food production sector will be redirected to practices promoting easier sustainable choices among consumers. The plan increases the total EU area of organic farming form 8% (2018) to 25% (2030). Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, presented the EU organic action plan on 25th of March 2021. The plan focuses on stimulating organic farming and organic food consumption, compatible with objectives of “Farm to Fork” strategy.
Climate neutrality 2050 target will be a great challenge for the whole European Union. Because of that, the Commission indicated an intermediate goal of emission reduction at least 55% by 2030. This goal was approved during the European Council summit in December 2020 and right away EU notified UNFCCC Secretariat of its revised nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the framework of the Paris Agreement, increasing the reduction ambition up to at least 55% compared to 1990 emission level. Nevertheless, the European Parliament acknowledged the 55% goal as insufficient and called for emission reduction by 60%.
Stepping up EU reduction ambition will need a revision of reduction targets of EU ETS sectors and non-ETS sectors. Economy transformation towards climate neutrality means not only the policy and the strategy implementation. The social background and adequate finance will determine the pace of change within EU Member States. And this is of particularly high importance nowadays when the whole Europe combats the pandemic.
Author: Izabela Zborowska, CAKE/KOBiZE/LIFE VIIEW2050
Material from the Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute, the organizer of the Klimada 2.0 project
1 This article was prepared within the scope of the project: “The impact assessment of the EU Emission Trading System with the long-term vision for a climate neutral economy by 2050 (LIFE VIIEW 2050)” – LIFE19 GIC/PL/001205.
2 Conclusions of the European Council summit, 1-11 December 2020.
3 EC Communication: “A new Circular Economy Action Plan. For a cleaner and more competitive Europe.” https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1583933814386&uri=COM:2020:98:FIN
5Komunikat KE, Strategia „od pola do stołu” na rzecz sprawiedliwego, zdrowego i przyjaznego dla środowiska systemu żywnościowego https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:ea0f9f73-9ab2-11ea-9d2d-01aa75ed71a1.0015.02/DOC_1&format=PDF