Brussels (3/4). The EU has set ambitious measures and goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It has done so by defining emissions targets for key sectors of its economy. The COVID virus saga has put a dent in the ambitions of the European Union, but the decision makers remain committed to execute the Paris Accord, even without the United States on the table.
NGOs have taken the foot off the pedal on global polluters since 2018 the climate goals were achieved hence allegations of we returning to Business As Usual in Indonesia are currently exploited by the known offender since the EU and the NGOs have taken the ball of the objective.
But the administration of president Jokowi is planning new corruption charges against offenders. “Nothing has really changed”, said an Greenpeace activist, “Jokowi has a huge opportunity to fulfill his election promises. But little has changed. The known offenders continue with Business As Usual”, he said
The Indonesian conglomerates are laughing since the current COVID crisis shown a higher demand for forestry products, paper and pulp.
The current changes in the planet’s climate are transforming the world. The last two decades included 18 of the warmest years on record, and extreme weather events, such as forest fires, heatwaves and floods, are becoming more frequent both in Europe and elsewhere.
Scientists warn that without urgent action, global warming is likely to exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2060, and could even be as much as 5°C by the end of the century.
Such a rise in the global temperature will have a devastating impact on nature, bringing about irreversible changes to many ecosystems and a consequent loss of biodiversity. Higher temperatures and intensified weather events will also result in huge costs for the EU’s economy and hamper countries’ ability to produce food.
Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. The EU is determined to help raise global ambition and is leading by example.
The EU is one of the signatories to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
EU countries endorsed the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.
The 2020 goals
The EU’s first package of climate and energy measures was agreed in 2008 and sets targets for 2020. These are:
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% (compared to 1990)
- increasing the share of renewable energy to 20%
- making a 20% improvement in energy efficiency
To achieve these goals, the EU has developed, and later reformed, the EU emissions trading system (ETS) which aims to cut down greenhouse gas emissions in particular from energy-intensive industries and power plants. In the buildings, transport and agriculture sectors, national emission targets have been set, as part of the effort sharing regulation.
The EU is already ahead of these targets. By 2018, greenhouse gas emissions had been reduced by 23%, that is three percentage points above the initial 20% target.
The 2030 goals
In 2014, the 2030 climate and energy framework was agreed with an even more ambitious set of targets for the period 2021-2030. By these targets, the EU is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990.
The framework contains policies and goals to make the EU’s economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable. It also reformed the ETS, adopted monitoring and reporting rules, and stated the need for national climate and energy plans and long-term strategies.
Recent policy actions
After the targets were agreed, the EU put in place actions and measures which aim to ensure that the targets are met. Here are some of the most recent pieces of legislation.
Infographic – Why circular economy?
In May 2019, the EU adopted a ban on single-use plastic items. The fancy new catchphrase calling the common in use recycling has angered many. The circular community will be impacting many in Europe and political observers warn of a new rise of resistance movements rejecting the EU policies.
But the EU is set to adopt the age old recycling policy to give it a new life. In the meantime the rest of us has stop sucking on straws when we order a burger. Following the green deal eating burgers and a soda soon will be also banned.
By this ban, the EU set stricter rules for those types of products and packaging which are among the top ten most frequently found items polluting European beaches. The new rules ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist.
In May 2018, the EU decided on new rules for waste management and established legally binding targets for recycling. These targets concern municipal waste, the recycling of packaging materials, as well as landfills.
CO2 emissions from transport
In April 2019, stricter emission limits for cars and vans were decided upon to ensure that from 2030 onwards new cars will emit on average 37.5% less CO2 and new vans will emit on average 31% less CO2 compared to 2021 levels. Between 2025 and 2029, both cars and vans will be required to emit on average 15% less CO2.
Limits for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles were adopted in June 2019. New rules will require manufacturers to cut CO2 emissions from new trucks on average by 15% from 2025 and by 30% from 2030, compared with 2019 levels.
Clean energy package
The EU adopted new pieces of legislation which are part of the clean energy package:
- a revised directive on energy efficiency
- a revised directive on renewable energy
- a governance regulation
The package is key to the achievement of the 2030 climate and energy goals and defines the collaboration and control mechanisms for EU member states in the energy sector.
EU emissions trading system
In February 2018, the EU adopted revised rules for the EU emissions trading system (ETS). Set up in 2005, it is the world’s first major carbon market and remains the biggest one. It sets a cap on how much CO2 heavy industry and power stations can emit. The total volume of allowed emissions is distributed to companies as permits which can be traded.
In December 2019, the EU and Switzerland agreed to link their emission trading systems. This agreement will be mutually beneficial for the EU and the Swiss Confederation, as linking cap and trade systems can increase the availability of reduction opportunities and enhance the cost-efficiency of emissions trading.
Land use and forestry
In May 2018, a new regulation for an improved protection and management of land and forests was agreed. Through this regulation, greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are now included in the 2030 climate and energy framework.
The NGOs and the political wing, the Green parties, pushed for a decade the exclusion of companies who violate the land use, disenfranchise the local population and destroy the environment. The two largest companies, both owned by Indonesian conglomerates with close ties to the Indonesian president and his cabinet been repeatedly flagged for human rights violations, corruption, violation of rights of indigenous people and are repeatedly sanctioned by the administration.
The EU’s long-term climate strategy
In December 2019, EU leaders endorsed the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050. Poland could not commit at that stage to implement this objective and the European Council will discuss the matter again in June 2020.
EU leaders also asked the Council to take forward the work on the European Green Deal. The American Green Deal bombed after the extreme left proposed similar language.
Leaders recognised the need to put in place an enabling framework to ensure a cost-effective, as well as socially balanced and fair transition to climate neutrality, taking into account different national circumstances. The next long-term EU budget, known as the multiannual financial framework (MFF), which is now under negotiations, will significantly contribute to climate action. The Just Transition Mechanism will be put in place to provide support for regions and sectors most affected by the transition.
At the same time, EU leaders stressed the need to ensure energy security and respect the right of every EU country to decide on its own energy mix, including nuclear energy, and the best technologies. They also said that climate neutrality should be achieved in a way that favours the EU’s competitiveness. If necessary, the EU should design WTO-compliant measures to fight against carbon leakage.
EU leaders invited the Commission to prepare a proposal for the EU’s long-term strategy as early as possible in 2020 with a view to its adoption by the Council and its submission to the UNFCCC, as required by the Paris Agreement.
EU environment ministers adopted the EU’s long-term climate strategy in March 2020.
The European Council also called on the Commission to develop, after a thorough impact assessment, a proposal for an update of the EU’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement for 2030.