BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will quicken its battle against climate change this week, with the announcement of a Green Deal by the new European Commision on Wednesday and a summit on Thursday at which leaders will seek to endorse the goal of making the EU climate-neutral by 2050.
These developments come as the United Nations’ climate conference in Madrid comes to the end of its second and final week.
Here are the main things to watch for on the Brussels front.
Ursula von der Leyen, new president of the European Commission, will announce details of her headline climate change mitigation plan, the Green Deal, on Wednesday afternoon.
A component of the package expected to steal the spotlight is the JUST TRANSITION FUND, a mechanism of at least 35 billion euros that would support “regions most exposed to decarbonization challenge”, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.
The funding is aimed at winning over fossil fuel-dependent countries, particularly Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, by helping them with their energy transition to renewables.To make the rest of the world follow the EU’s suit, there would be a CARBON BORDER TAX, essentially tariffs on imported polluting goods. The Commission says this would be compatible with World Trade Organization rules.
Another way to punish polluting industries is the EU’s EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME (ETS), under which polluters buy the right to emit pollutants. Currently it doesn’t include aviation or shipping, something von der Leyen has pledged to change, as these industries account for a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
Von der Leyen has pledged to work for a MORE AMBITIOUS 2030 EMISSIONS CUT, an increase to a 55% cut from 40% of 1990 levels, the current 2030 goal. Several organizations, including the union’s own environmental agency, EEA, say the current 2030 goal of a 40% cut from 1990 levels is not nearly enough, saying at least 55% is required.
Von der Leyen has pledged to present a EUROPEAN CLIMATE LAW by March 2020, which would enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality into law, binding member states to adhere to it.
The 2050 climate-neutrality goal will be one of the main issues that EU leaders tackle at their Thursday-Friday summit.
All but three member states - Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary - have signed up to goal, which would mean not adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere beyond what can be absorbed.
The holdouts have stopped the EU from leading the charge in the global fight against climate change during the past year, as the goal requires unanimous support. An agreement is a far from certain outcome at this week’s summit.
The EU’s long-term budget for the next seven years will also be discussed at the summit, and Just Transition Funds for coal-dependent member states will be a part of these discussions.
Editing by John Chalmers and Angus MacSwan