European Green Deal


  • On 11th December, 2019, European Commission presented European Green Deal- the most ambitious package of measures, which will enable European citizens and businesses to benefit from sustainable green transition.
  • The Deal covers all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.

Aim

  • To transform the European Union (EU) into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.
  • To protect, conserve and enhance the EU's natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts.

Need

  • The European Union, which consists of 28 member countries, is together the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China and the United States.

Key Points of European Deal

Climate Neutral Europe

  • This is the overarching objective of the European Green Deal. The EU will aim to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a goal that will be enshrined in a ‘Climate Law’ to be presented in March 2020.

Increase Emission Reduction Target

  • In its climate action plan declared under the Paris Agreement, the EU was committed to making a 40 percent reduction in its emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. But now it has decided to increase this reduction to at least 50 percent and work towards 55 percent.

Circular Economy

  • A new circular economy action plan will be tabled in March 2020, as part of a broader EU industrial strategy. It will include a sustainable product policy with “prescriptions on how we make things” in order to use less materials, and ensure products can be reused and recycled.

 Building Renovation

  • This is meant to be one of the flagship programmes of the Green Deal. The key objective there is to “at least double or even triple” the renovation rate of buildings, which currently stands at around 1%.

Zero-pollution

  • Whether in air, soil or water, the objective is to reach a “pollution-free environment” by 2050. New initiatives there include a chemical strategy for a “toxic-free environment”.

Revamping Ecosystems & Biodiversity

  • A new biodiversity strategy will be presented in March 2020, in the run-up to a UN biodiversity summit taking place in China in October, 2020.
  • It includes measures to tackle soil and water pollution as well as a new forest strategy.
  • New labelling rules will be tabled to promote deforestation-free agricultural products.

Farm to Fork Strategy

  • To be tabled in Spring 2020, the new strategy will aim for a “green and healthier agriculture” system. This includes plans to significantly reduce the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics.

Transport

  • Electric vehicles will be further encouraged with an objective of deploying 1 million public charging points across Europe by 2025.
  • Sustainable alternative fuels – biofuels and hydrogen – will be promoted in aviation, shipping and heavy duty road transport where electrification is currently not possible.

Green Investment

  • TheEuropean Investment Bank (EIB), the EU's lending arm, decided to cease funding fossil fuel projects at the end of 2021 for the Europe's Climate Bank.
  • It requires funding parts of the European Green Deal policies with a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan in coming years.

Transition Fund

  • To “leave no-one behind,” the Commission proposes a Just Transition Mechanism to help regions most heavily dependent on fossil fuels. It plans to mobilise €100 billion precisely targeted to the most vulnerable regions and sectors.

Impact

  • Providing a Roadmap: The Deal provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution.
  • Improving Environment: Initiatives to halt biodiversity will also bring indirect benefits by improving nature through restoration of ecosystems, planting trees, safeguarding carbon-rich ecosystems.
  • Improving Health & Well-Being: It contains specific actions that will directly improve the health and well-being of the public. The first of these are the actions to tackle pollution of air and water and pollution caused by hazardous chemicals.
  • Benefits to Consumers: Consumers will benefit from more sustainable products that are designed to be repairable, durable, recycled and use less energy. This can help reduce the lifetime costs of the products they buy. Additional and more accurate consumer information will also allow consumers to make better-informed decisions and thereby help to drive the transition to cleaner products and a healthier environment.
  • Boost to Business: The transition depicted in the Deal is an opportunity for business to modernise and become more competitive. With support from within the investment and innovation programmes of the Multi-annual Financial Framework, industry will be encouraged to develop new market-leading environmentally friendly technologies and sustainable solutions.

Way Forward

  • The EU is the largest economy in the world, so the decisions it makes as a collective reverberate throughout the world. The Deal is an integral part of Commission’s strategy to implement the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals
  • To deliver the European Green Deal, there is a need to rethink policies for clean energy supply across the economy, industry, production and consumption, large-scale infrastructure, transport, food and agriculture, construction, taxation and social benefits.
  • However, the deal seems to be inadequate in itself to achieve the emission reductions that scientific assessments say would be required to save the world from catastrophic and irreversible impacts of climate change.
  • There has been nosignal from other big emitters, including large developing countries like China and India that they were considering immediate scaling up of their climate actions.
  • As long as many international partners do not share the same ambition as the EU, there is a risk of carbon leakage, either because production is transferred from the EU to other countries with lower ambition for emission reduction, or because EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports.
  • If this risk materializes, there will be no reduction in global emissions, and this will frustrate the efforts of EU and its industries to meet the global climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.