The European Union is gearing up for the world’s most ambitious push against climate change with a radical overhaul of its economy.
At a summit in Brussels next week, EU leaders will commit to cutting net greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050, according to a draft of their joint statement for the December 12-13 meeting. To meet this target, the EU will promise more green investment and adjust all of its policy making accordingly.
“If our common goal is to be a climate-neutral continent in 2050, we have to act now,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told a UN climate conference on Monday. “It’s a generational transition we have to go through.”
The EU plan, set to be approved as the high-profile UN summit in Madrid winds up, would put the bloc ahead of other major emitters. Countries including China, India and Japan have yet to translate voluntary pledges under the 2015 Paris climate accord into binding national measures. US President Donald Trump has said he’ll pull the US out of the Paris agreement.
The commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, will have the job of drafting the rules that would transform the European economy once national leaders have signed off on the climate goals for 2050. The wording of the draft summit communique, which may still change, reflects an initial set proposals due to be unveiled by the commission on the eve of the leaders’ gathering.
To ensure that coal-reliant Poland doesn’t veto the climate goals, EU leaders will pledge an “enabling framework” that will include financial support, according to the document, dated December 2. The commission has estimated that additional investment on energy and infrastructure of as much as €290bn ($321bn) a year may be required after 2030 to meet the targets.
Von der Leyen told the UN meeting that the commission will propose an EU law in March that would “make the transition to climate neutrality irreversible.” She said the measure will extend the scope of emissions trading, and will include “a farm-to-fork strategy and a biodiversity strategy.” The EU leaders will also debate the bloc’s next long-term budget next week. The current proposal would commit at least $300bn in public funds for climate initiatives, or at least a quarter of the bloc’s entire budget for the period between 2021 and 2027. Pages: 10, 11
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