On Earth Day 2021, we celebrate another spring amidst the pandemic. Today, we are called to remember that our own health and survival depends on the health of our planet.
The European Climate Law aims to enshrine into law the European Green Deal's goal for Europe to become 'climate-neutral by 2050.' Ahead of Earth Day and President Joe Biden's Climate Summit, European leaders have reached an agreement which is indicative of progress, but does not yet meet the scale of the climate crisis.
In an effort to bring the EU position to the Climate Leaders Summit, Frans Timmermans and Emmanuel Macron pushed to fast-track decision-making on the Climate Law, resulting in a weak outcome -- especially on climate targets for 2030. Scientists and activists, together with Greens across Europe, called for a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions -- but only a net 55% reduction has been secured. Furthermore, rather than representing a direct reduction of emissions, it is now a net target, which includes carbon sinks. In short, this means only a 52.8% direct reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
It has been agreed that the Council will reinforce wording in all future legislative proposals so that they are consistent with the 2030 target and the climate-neutrality objective. The Council has also agreed on an independent EU Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change made up of 15 scientific experts which will provide scientific advice and ensure coherence with the Paris Agreement. This crucial win has been a strong demand from the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament. We look forward to closely scrutinising the Council's implementation of the climate mainstreaming as well as the Scientific Advisory Board over the coming months to ensure that these are inline with the climate-neutrality objective.
Michael Bloss MEP, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur on the European Climate Law in the Environment Committee, commented that:
"With this 2030 climate target, the EU is not doing enough to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which threatens the fate of current and future generations to a world of climate chaos and economic hardship. The Commission and Council, along with their supporters in the conservatives groups, have rushed through a weak Climate Law for the sake of a photo-op with President Joe Biden and missed the chance for the EU to be a global leader on climate action."
Bas Eickhout MEP, Greens/EFA Vice President of the Environment Committee, highlighted that the EU Green Deal is 'simply not ambitious enough for the EU to do its part towards saving the climate' commenting that:
"While we welcome the long overdue introduction of a Climate Law, the targets set in tonight's deal risk making the European Green Deal little more than a slogan for the Commission and Council. The blockade against ambitious targets by the majority of EU governments undermines the fight against climate change (...)"
The European Climate Law, meant to be the flagship policy of the EU Green Deal, is currently not in line with the EU's targets under the Paris Agreement. If the EU continues to water down and strike weak compromises on its ambitions, it will no longer be able to lead on climate or adequately address the climate crisis.
Green recovery is necessary to address the health and climate crisis
Across Europe, the Greens have been advocating for a just and sustainable transition, and we will continue to push the EU to lead on ambitious, fair and science-based climate action. The European Greens are calling to reach climate neutrality by 2040 or before.
We advocate for an approach that puts 'climate at the heart of recovery' to build a better tomorrow. A Green transition can not only guarantee well-funded health and social care services, and a resilient and sustainable economy but also cleaner air, healthier ecosystems, greater energy security and a more innovative economy. Recovery must be achieved through a real transition to a more resilient and sustainable economic model.
In order to ensure that the European Green Deal meets the scale of the crisis, the Greens are demanding :
- A reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that makes sure EU funds go towards supporting sustainable practices and small scale, local farmers, as well as towards building local resilience and biodiversity
- Ensuring that EU regulation on sustainable finance (the EU Taxonomy) does not allow for natural gas and nuclear to be counted as "climate-friendly" investments, and that the EU ends all subsidies for fossil fuels
- A push for strong and ambitious updates to the Climate and Energy Package review in June including a coal-phase out by 2030 at the latest, followed by other fossil fuels soon after, a 2030 combustion engine phase out, and a truly ambitious commitment to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible
We must protect the planet for present and future generations. The Greens will continue to fight for climate action that meets the scale of the climate crisis.