Last week, the European Commission presented a series of legislative tools to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies align better with achieving the European Green Deal’s (EGD) goal of a net-zero Europe by 2050. The EGD was set in December 2019, and has helped the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions fall 24% compared to 1990 levels. 

The new proposals will help connect a variety of climate mitigation plans. This includes tightening the emissions cap on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, and expanding it to cover more sectors. It will also phase out free emission allowances in aviation, and request that member states spend all of their emission trading revenue on projects dealing with climate change, especially ones that address the impact on vulnerable households and businesses. Click here for an introduction to how the EU ETS works. 

They have also set a goal of capturing and storing 310 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by expanding natural carbon sinks, with an emphasis on reforestation. Carbon capture and storage can be done using a variety of different technologies and all need to be further developed and expanded to contribute to achieve the EGD. 

Switching to renewable energy sources also forms an important part of the deal – currently energy production causes 75% of the EU’s emissions, so the deal aims for 40% of the EU’s energy to be produced from renewable sources by 2030. There is also a goal to reduce overall energy usage by renovating buildings to be more efficient, and developing zero-emission cars by 2035. 

These goals are ambitious and will require a lot of hard work, dedication to long term goals, and strict policy enforcement to be successful. The responsibility to adhere to these emissions reduction plans lies in the hands of all European countries, to protect the future of us all.