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Von der Leyen's Green Deal promises a carbon-neutral EU by 2050

At least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action, the EU Commission has said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement today.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement today.
Image: DPA/PA Images

THE EU COMMISSION has adopted ‘The European Green Deal’ which lays out plans to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

This is one of the first actions taken by the new President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, whose panel of Commissioners was approved by MEPs last month.

The EU Green Deal will require “significant investment”, the Commission said today – the current 2030 climate targets cost around €260 billion of additional investment a year, representing about 1.5% of 2018 GDP.

At least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action.

A ‘just transition mechanism’ will support those regions that rely heavily on very carbon intensive activities, the Commission said, giving them access to reskilling programmes and employment opportunities in new sectors.

“Let’s start this endeavour together,” von der Leyen told the European Parliament, urging members to get behind her clean growth strategy.

“Some say the cost of this transition is too high, let us never forget what the cost of non-action would be. It is rising by the year.”

Tweet by @Billy Kelleher MEP Source: Billy Kelleher MEP/Twitter

She said that the European Green Deal “is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away”.

“We will help our economy to be a global leader by moving first and moving fast… By showing the rest of the world how to be sustainable and competitive, we can convince other countries to move with us.”

The European Green Deal aims to move to a “clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution”.

It outlines investments needed and covers all sectors of the economy – including transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.

In an information pack entitled ‘What if we don’t act?’ the European Commission gives the following list:

  • 400,000 premature deaths per year today due to air pollution. This figure is expected to soar
  • 90,000 annual deaths as a result of heatwaves
  • 660,000 additional asylum applications per year in the EU as 5C temperature increase
  • 16% of species at risk of extinction at 4.3C temperature increase
  • 40% less water available in southern regions of the EU
  • 2.2 million people exposed to coastal inundation each year.

It also states that climate change could lead to a 20% food price rise in 2050. 

What’s next then?

Work will immediately start for upping Europe’s 2030 emissions targets, setting a realistic path to the 2050 goal.

Other plans related to the Green Deal include: the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the new Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food and proposals for pollution-free Europe.

At least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action, the Commission said, adding that the European Investment Bank, Europe’s climate bank, will provide further support. For the private sector to contribute to financing the green transition, the Commission will present a Green Financing Strategy in 2020.

“Fighting climate change and environmental degradation is a common endeavour but not all regions and member states start from the same point.”

In March 2020, the Commission will launch a ‘Climate Pact’ to give citizens chance to weigh in on suggesting actions that can be taken, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and showcasing their solutions for others to follow.

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