Here’s What To Expect As The EU Unveils Its Ambitious New Climate Legislation

Topline

The European Union is set to unveil sweeping new legislation Wednesday that will focus on slashing the region’s emission of greenhouse gases by 55% over this decade and include measures to phase out the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles within 20 years as the bloc charts out its ambitious new climate goals.

Key Facts

The proposed legislation, called “Fit for 55,” will be laid out by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, and it is expected to include stricter limits on car pollution and new national limits on gas emissions, the Associated Press reported.

The proposed legislation is expected to include a scheme that will require domestic companies to pay for the gases they release into the atmosphere.

The proposal also includes a contentious plan called “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” which would impose tariffs on imported products based on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with them, effectively shielding EU-based companies from goods made in countries with less strict emission policies.

According to Reuters, the proposal is set to also include a measure that will effectively eliminate the sale of new gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles from 2035, forcing a complete switch to all electric cars.

Carmakers, who have preemptively announced large investments in electric vehicles in line with the EU’s 2030 goal, are seeking investments from the bloc in building public charging stations as well as commitments on the fate of hybrid vehicles—a technology on which many of them have made major medium-term investments.

What To Watch For

The proposed laws are likely to face varying challenges from the 27 member nations who have extremely varied energy production capabilities. France and Germany have already opposed phasing out combustion engine cars by 2035 and are instead calling for a longer leash for plug-in hybrid cars. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism plan, might also face opposition from countries outside the bloc and may fall afoul of the World Trade Organization rules on protectionist measures. Some countries within the bloc, like Poland, still heavily rely on fossil fuels like coal to generate a lion’s share of their power, and such members may resist calls for such sweeping changes.

Key Background

In April, the EU’s 27 member nations agreed to a tentative climate deal that would make the bloc carbon neutral by the year 2050. As part of the agreement, the EU raised its target for cutting greenhouse gas and agreed to slash the emission of harmful gases by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, up from the previously promised target of 40%. The “Fit for 55” proposal will offer a set of concrete measures to achieve this planned goal. At its core, the proposal is set to focus on weaning the continent off fossil fuels before it hits a climate tipping point. Six years ago, world leaders established the Paris Agreement aimed at keeping the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Both the EU and the United States have set targets to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of this century, which scientists say is crucial to achieving the goals set in Paris.

Crucial Quote

In April, the EU’s 27 member nations agreed to a tentative climate deal that would make the bloc carbon neutral by the year 2050. As part of the agreement, the EU raised its target for cutting greenhouse gas and agreed to slash the emission of harmful gases by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, up from the previously promised target of 40%. The “Fit for 55” proposal will offer a set of concrete measures to achieve this planned goal. At its core, the proposal is set to focus on weaning the continent off fossil fuels before it hits a climate tipping point. Six years ago, world leaders established the Paris Agreement aimed at keeping the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Both the EU and the United States have set targets to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of this century, which scientists say is crucial to achieving the goals set in Paris.

Chief Critic

Critics of the plan have pointed out that it fails to do enough to completely eliminate fossil fuels and allows companies to pass the cost of emissions down to consumers. “What the Commission says is ‘Fit for 55’ is unfit for our planet and unfair to society. Without a fossil fuel phase-out, the fuel industry will pass on emission costs for buildings and transport to citizens and still keep making immense profits,” Barbara Mariani, European Environmental Bureau’s Policy Manager for Climate said.

Further Reading

EU to unveil tough climate rules, with tax on foreign firms (Forbes)

EU set to call time on combustion engine within two decades (Reuters)

Climate Neutral By 2050: European Union Reaches Tentative Climate Deal Ahead Of Biden Summit (Forbes)

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