On July 14, the European Union (EU) released some new proposals to meet its goal of making Europe the first climate neutral continent in the world. Part of the process to meet their neutrality target by 2050 involves reducing emissions by a minimum of 55% of 1990 levels by the year 2030. The proposals are all elements of delivering what is being called the European Green Deal. In addition to reaching neutrality of greenhouse gases by 205, the Green Deal seeks to separate economic growth from resource use, while ensuring that no one and no place is left behind in the effort.
The proposal discusses several different elements of the plan. First, making transportation sustainable. In terms of motor vehicles, the goal is to reduce car emissions 55% by 2030, van emissions 50% by 2030, and 0% emissions from cars by 2035. The European Commission is also proposing a carbon pricing on aviation as well as working to produce sustainable aviation fuels. They are also proposing carbon pricing for maritime vessels.
Another proposal seeks to make buildings throughout Europe more energy efficient, increasing the use of renewable energies. The plan is to require Member States to renovate at least 3% of the total floor area of public buildings annually; set a benchmark of 49% of renewables in buildings by 2030; and require member States to increase the use of renewable energy in heating and cooling by 1.1% each year until 2030. In relation to renewable energy, the goal is to make renewable energy 40% of the energy used within Europe by 2030. To do this, tax incentives will be created to encourage adoption of renewable energy. As for the greener buildings, a new Social Climate Fund will be introduced to assist EU citizens most affected or at risk of energy or mobility poverty and help mitigate the costs of moving to use of more renewable energy sources. 72.2 billion Euros over 7 years to help with renovating buildings, providing zero and low emissions mobility, and even income support.
Increasing Europe’s natural carbon sink is another proposal to reach the goals of carbon neutrality. The old target was 230 Mt. The EU is currently at 268 Mt and the new target is 310 Mt. The goal will be reached by restoring forests, soils, wetlands, and peatlands.
Finally, the plan recognizes the need to work with other nations across the globe. The EU hopes that its focus and leadership in this area will provide expertise and products that can be utilized by others to help benefit everyone. A variety of factsheets that provide more in depth discussions of all of the proposals are available for download on the European Commission website.