ONE HOUR FOR EUROPE

Make Your Voice To Be Heard

Ingrid Schultz

What is the European Green Deal?

What is the European Green Deal? For years now, the degradation of global climate is no longer called ‘climate change” but “climate crisis”. And for good reason. Year by year, our planet is adding to a list of natural disasters indicating that we are doing something wrong. This global state represents an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome these challenges, the European Union has put together a 24 pages document in which the project of the European Green Deal is laboriously tackled. Although it is not a heavy read the European Green Deal covers the environmental challenges substantially on all levels and sets forth an ambitious plan: “[the strategy] aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.” The legislative facet of the European Green Deal If you are asking how much legislative power the European Green Deal has, you need to know that this document is a Communication so it does not have legislative powers. However, its importance is great as it sets a baseline for the European Climate Law and acts as an example in the international arena. The Green Deal’s and European Climate Law’s main objective is to propose a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Complementary, the law also foresees a framework of steps in order to reach the ambitious goal. The environment discussion always was and continues to be unwieldy. Hence, the EU's idea to write a Communication in this respect before agreeing on a law is a politically intelligent move so the EU Member States and other signatory states of the Paris Agreement have a common non-binding ground, a starting point. History on this matter has shown that agreeing on a law is extremely challenging especially on a subject such as climate change. The necessity of the European Green Deal and its goals The EU somehow bears a great responsibility in the climate change policymaking department. By putting forth an ambitious plan “to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy” the EU is setting a quite high threshold for the rest of the parties who commit to the agenda. During the last years, following COP21 and the Paris Agreement, the number of vocal environmentalists grew bigger and bigger, the NGO’s lobbying work became more pushy and Greta Thunberg has reached her 123 school strike for climate as we speak (read). Hence, the policymakers are facing concerns and a pressing year ahead. The news organization, Politico, is claiming that adding to environmental apprehension, the EU is worried about falling behind in the solar power industry, electric vehicles production and other key areas with this respect. Thus, the main three goals put forward in the European Green Deal are: no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, economic growth decoupled from resource use, no person and no place left behind (via the Just Transition Mechanism). We have to admit that the goals are comprehensive and ambitious. As far as achieving these goals, the Green Deal provides a finely tuned action plan. What are the actions to be taken and policy areas to be included? The main actions to be taken are to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and to restore biodiversity and cut pollution. Certainly, the action plan is designed to include a variety of policy areas. From biodiversity to sustainable industry and from clean energy to sustainable mobility, the Green Deal is vastly comprehensive. Additionally, the European Green Deal provides a roadmap of this action plan. The goals and the action plan look good, but how costly will this project be? Let’s talk about money for a bit. Putting in action all the steps and achieving the goals imply a great deal of investments. Hence, the European Green Deal will mobilise at least €1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next decade. This is a great amount of financial resources so you may ask where does all the money come from and how much of it is new money? Well, this financial strain will be concealed by the EU budget, multiple funding programmes such as the European Agricultural Fund, Cohesion Fund, Life Fund and others, the Innovation and Modernisation Fund, Just Transition Fund and Mechanism and contributions from InvestEU and EIB. A great effort for a great cause we might say. Future Outlook and Developments According to the action plan included in the European Green Deal Communication we are looking forward to a few proposals for relevant legislative revisions along with several certain measures. The stated date is June 2021. Until then, you can read and re-read the European Green Deal document so you can be updated and follow the progress made by the European Union and the world.

By Ingrid Schultz co-coordinator of One Hour for Europe’s team of Romania

21 January 2021