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Europe's 'man on the moon moment', sweeping plans to enable the EU to hit net-zero emissions by 2050

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has unveiled 50 sweeping plans to enable the EU to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, claiming that the Green Deal was "more than just a vision, it is a roadmap for action".

The European Green Deal was formally unveiled at COP25 on Wednesday (11 December), outlining a comprehensive climate and nature package of measures to make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

Headline targets listed in the Green Deal include a 50-55% emissions reduction target for 2030; a climate law to reach net-zero emissions by 2050; a transition fund worth €100bn and a series of new sector policies to ensure all industries are able to decarbonise.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The European Green Deal is, on the one hand, our vision for a climate-neutral continent in 2050 and it is, on the other hand, a very dedicated roadmap to this goal. It is fifty actions for 2050.

“Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet, to reconcile the way we produce and the way we consume with our planet and to make it work for our people. Therefore, the European Green Deal is on the one hand about cutting emissions, but on the other hand it is about creating jobs and boosting innovation.”

Between 1990 and 2018, the EU reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23% while growing its economy by 61%, However, the Commission’s own projections suggest that only a 60% emissions reduction can be achieved by 2050 based on current trajectories.

In response, the Commission will propose the first European ‘Climate Law’ by March 2020 that will enshrine the net-zero 2050 objective. The Law will also feature mechanisms to ensure that all future EU policies contribute to the climate neutrality objective.

Achieving the current 2030 climate and energy targets is estimated to require €260bn of additional annual investment, according to the Commission, representing 1.5% of GDP. The Commission will create a Sustainable Investment Plan in 2020 to outline that at least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget will need to be funnelled into the Green Deal framework, with the European Investment Bank, Europe's climate bank providing additional support. A Green Financing Strategy will be presented next year to outline private sector contributions.

A key driver of the decarbonisation process will be through the existing Emissions Trading System, which may be extended to new sectors. Member States will also be called upon to set targets to reduce sector emissions for those currently outside of the trading system.

Anders Nordeng, senior analyst at Refinitiv Carbon Research, commented: “The EU ETS is already more ambitious than it appears at first glance. With the targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency set in June 2018, Europe is de facto on track to a 45% reduction in 2030.

“The current carbon market set-up contains a ‘hidden gem’ in the shape of cancellation of allowances from the market stability reserve. We estimate that the provision to cancel allowances sitting in the reserve implies that by 2030 3.7 billion allowances are taken out of circulation for good. This means a de facto tightening of EU's long term climate ambition”.

The blueprints mention policy reforms to “ensure effective carbon pricing throughout the economy” and the Commission will propose to revise the Energy Taxation Directive, focusing on environmental issues.


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