On December 2019, the European Commission presented the Green Deal, a systematic plan to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The plan will tackle climate change and environmental related challenges to vail a way for a just and inclusive economic growth for all its member states. The Covid-19 emergency overshadowed the proposal that is now a the center of the debate in the phase 2 and 3.
What is the Green Deal?
The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen proposed the European Green Deal on her first 100 days in office. She said: “The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away… We will help our economy to be a global leader by moving first and moving fast… By showing the rest of the world how to be sustainable and competitive, we can convince other countries to move with us.”
The strategy requires a reset of almost all sectors: transport, farming, manufacturing and power plans. The economy will be overhauled, from energy to consumption, and from construction to investment. “This is man to mood moment” says Ursula von der Leyen. This will make Europe the first climate neutral continent and a benchmark for circular economy and clean technologies. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity, but it’s definitely not easy.
The Green Deal investment plan set out by the Commission on the 14th of January, requires a massive public share of a €1trillion. Half of which coming from the EU budget (€503bn), and (€124bn) from national governments. The private sector is expected to contribute (€279bn) by making eco-friendly investments, but it will later on be supported by loans from European Investment Bank. Brussels has promised to top up the remaining (€100bn).
Is the Green Deal achievable?
The Commission has set out a step-by-step plan on how to achieve the 2050 agenda. On the 4th of March 2020 the Commission adopted its first Climate Law, establishing EU’s Green Deal objectives and ensure that all sectors play their part against the environmental degradation.
The legislative proposal includes carbon border tax and a review of the energy taxation directive. It also covers areas from carbon emissions pricing to traffic and construction. Out of the non-legislative initiatives, the European Climate Pact brings together local authorities, regions, schools and civil societies. It’s well-thought-out to be a just transitional mechanism as member states affected by the low-carbon transition, will receive support for their economy tin terms of funds and investments. It’s a plan where no one is lefts behind.
In a project as big as saving the environment, it’s obvious that the European Union cannot achieve climate neutrality by acting alone. The impact of climate change is seen globally and is not defined within national borders. The European Union needs the backing of its international partners and its neighbors. But most of all, EU needs other countries to join its sustainable track. This strategy is compulsory for the Commission President, whom wants the EU to raise wakefulness and the ambition of major emitters by 2021 in order to reach emission reduction targets from 40% towards 55% in the EU and internationally by 2030.
Is the Paris Agreement left behind?
On March the European Union environmental ministers adopted a long-term environmental strategy to low greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy has been submitted by the EU Council to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as required by the Paris Agreement.
The submitted framework guarantees EU Green Deal objective to be in line with the Paris agreement and its long-term goals. It also calls for all EU member states to submit their individual long-term plans by the end of this year. Surely, the Paris Agreement is not left out, but it’s an integral part of the European Green Deal.
“We are on track to meet our ambitious Paris Agreement goals and the 2030 targets, but we need to go further and faster if we are serious about climate neutrality in 2050”, says Ursula von der Leyen.
What’s the general Goal?
The European Green Deal, with all its massive financial plan and wide goals, it’s certainly an ambitious project. According to EU’s prediction, it will transform the European Union into a just and prosperous society. It will renovate the economy, clear greenhouse gasses emissions, and make a sustainable growth possible whilst safeguarding natural resources. The general aim is straightforward, i.e. to contain global warming on the threshold of 1,5 °C and boosting EU’s economy. Getting richer does not require polluting anymore.
How is it structured and what are the challenges?
The very first step the EU is looking to take is to change how its electrical energy is being produced. It presses to reduce the use of fossil-fuels from its current production of 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. This will be possible by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources.
But for Europe to stretch into a renewable energy system, it’s not without a challenge. These struggles are related to the differences in industrial integration between the west and the east European countries. For eastern EU countries find it difficult to carry a renewable energy machinery, when they lack access to the basis of power plant. Particularly Poland, and other important EU states as Germany to say the least, obtains 80% of its electric energy from fossil-fuel. Apparently, Poland does not endorse the common European aim of climate neutrality by 2050.
The hopes are clearly high. But the change from excessive pollution rates into a clear renewable energy system comes at a price. The EU has to create and promote social and financial initiatives to gain full support, promote the preservice of biodiversity and convey supporting from national actors.
East Europe vs. West Europe
A point of criticism is the possibility for the EU’s Green Deal project to generate clashes between countries of the east and west of the European Union. This kind of clash has the potential to lead to bargain and compromise the content of the Green Deal.
The greatest resistance will come from the East, where the coal industry weighs heavily in terms of GDP and employment. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland will therefore seek economic compensation and regulatory changes.
EU Green Deal vs. US Green New Deal?
For some years now, Green New Deal has been brought to the attention of American institutions. This has been seen by the legislative proposal of the newly elected Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. The project is very ambitious and seeks to combine measures to combat climate change with a series of social measures: the main objective is to use 100% renewable energy sources.
Unlike the EU, the US Green new Deal, proposed by the Democratic Representatives, is visualized to decarbonize the US economy in just 10 years. But scientist attest that it’s not possible. The Green new Deal is underlined as a “socialist project”, and is believed to be a target against the capitalist system.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey proposal is considered to harm the US economy and cause unrestrainable damage to public funds. “How else can we explain policies that include a federal job guarantee, economic security for those unable to work, housing provision, free health care, higher education for all and family subsistence pay” says Ryan Bourne from the Cato Institute, who is against the Green new Deal proposal.
A very hard target in a fragmented world
With EU’s Green Deal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, few things need to be considered along the way.
In the current global economic scenario, the role of individual member states in decision-making continues to be the center of EU’s policy making. Russia, in its importance in exporting energy to individual member states, remains a powerful economic partner and a threat to EU’s integration.
On the other hand, the uncertainty on whether Cina will stay committed to the Paris Agreement or not, after the US withdrew from the deal, remains open. As states depart from a multilateral climate deal, will EU’s Green Deal ever happen?