The European Green Deal is the roadmap for making the EU climate neutral by 2050, while assuring a Just Transition that leaves no one behind. The Green Deal was announced in December 2019 by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as the new growth strategy for the EU. A strategy for a growth that gives back more than it takes away. Our current system has allowed us to exploit and deplete our planet for decades, treating our earth as an inexhaustible source of resources. Instead, we must work towards respecting the planetary boundaries of our earth. And this is where climate neutrality comes in.
Climate neutrality concretely entails achieving net-zero emissions by absorbing more emission than we emit, on the one hand by drastically reducing our emission, while increasing removal of carbon from the atmosphere on the other. The European Green Party, in line with the vast majority of climate scientists, calls for reaching climate neutrality by 2040 or sooner in order to achieve the target that was set by the Paris Agreement, and signed by all EU member states, to keep global temperature rise to 1.5° C. Reducing our emissions is therefore crucial and inevitable to avoid the worst climate disruption. We must transform our economy away from fossil fuels and decarbonise our economy. Yet even so, some emissions will be difficult or impossible to avoid entirely.
Therefore, we also need to rely on carbon sinks that absorb and store carbon out of the atmosphere. Many of our natural carbon sinks such as plants, soil and oceans are already losing their ability to store carbon due to human activities, making them sources of emissions instead. Alongside reducing emissions, to reach climate neutrality, we must also protect, restore and strengthen our natural carbon sinks to absorb the remaining and unavoidable emissions.
Besides our natural sinks, there may also be a role for help from technological carbon sinks to help absorb carbon and reach climate neutrality. Innovation and investment to scale this technology responsibly is needed. However, technology should not be an excuse to avoid reducing emissions, nor to avoid protecting our natural sinks. To tackle the climate crisis, we need to protect our natural world and respect planetary boundaries to mitigate the damage that has already been done.
The path to climate neutrality is long and complex. But, we must start acting now! Our key demands are:
- A full coal phase-out by 2030, followed by other fossil fuels soon after
- Phasing out new internal combustion engines by 2030
- #withdrawthecap and make sure the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is in line with the Green Deal’s climate targets, Farm-2-Fork strategy and biodiversity strategy