There’s a new Green Deal in town that aims to decarbonise the economy. Yes, that’s decarbonise with an ‘s.’ Because this Green Deal is the EU’s.
The European Commission rolled out the Green Deal—not to be confused with the Green New Deal—which is billed a “new growth strategy for our economy, people, and planet,” on Wednesday. It includes 50 policy measures, including a plan to get the EU to net-zero emissions by 2050, a $160-billion fund to facilitate a just transition away from coal, a carbon border tax for companies importing products with big carbon footprints, and a policy to not take on trade agreements with nations not in the Paris Climate Agreement (that would be the U.S.). The commission said the net-zero target would notably be legally binding.
The Green Deal takes on the climate crisis in other ways, too. Under the plan, EU regulators would have to create production standards that phase out of creating unnecessary waste, set aside 40 per cent of the agricultural budget and 30 per cent of fisheries subsidies to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen air quality standards, and use more trains and boats for shipping to reduce air travel emissions.
“The Green Deal is Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said when she unveiled the suite of policies in European Parliament in Brussels.
EU leaders will meet in Brussels again on Wednesday to hammer more details like medium-term emissions targets. von der Leyen has called for a 55 per cent carbon emissions reduction by 2030, which is up from their current target of 40 per cent.
The rollout comes two weeks after Parliament declared a climate emergency, and a week after the European Environment Agency announced that the EU will probably miss its target of reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2030.
Far-right wingers have rejected the plan, but it’s won the support of the conservative European People’s Party, who have the most seats in Parliament.
But not all left-wing parties are excited about the plan. The Green Party members of Parliament, who have called for a 65 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, said it’s a “necessary step,” but that they’d have to weigh each policy individually. The European United Left/Nordic Green Left, Parliaments’ left political bloc, responded in a similarly lukewarm way.
At a conference they convened in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, they called for an ambitious 70 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, and believe the plan needs to encompass more social policy and commit to moving away from austerity.
“The Commission’s proposal is a step in the right direction but we need more than steps – we need solutions,” their co-president Martin Schirdewan said in a statement. “This means we have to tackle the privileges of the elite so common citizens do not have to pay the price.