EU to launch continent-wide climate targets

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The EC in Brussels. Image: Pixabay

The EU formally kicks off the complex process of turning a continent-wide climate target into concrete policy measures today.

The bumper package of policies is meant to help the European Union achieve a 55 percent net cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Hitting the target will require significant changes in a variety of economic sectors, from cars to energy, and taxation to trade.

But the Commission is expected to stop short of cutting off financial support for fossil fuels and other environmentally destructive sectors, like industrial farming and aviation, and will even encourage investments in fossil gas and the burning of trees for energy, what is known as bioenergy, by labelling them as sustainable solutions.

As the planet is gripped by the worst extreme weather in human history, the 55 per cent target for net cuts to emissions itself falls well short of what science requires to restrict global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius and stop catastrophic climate breakdown. The target translates to a 52.8 per cent cut in real emissions from polluting sectors, like energy, transport and farming, because of the counting of ‘negative’ emissions – carbon dioxide that could potentially be absorbed by carbon sinks like forests.

“This package of measures from the Commission is a fireworks display over a rubbish dump. It may look impressive, but move in close and it begins to smell,” said Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss on July 14.

“No amount of razzamatazz will change the fact that it’s all meant to deliver on a target to cut emissions that’s not grounded in climate science. It condemns us to a world where the deadly heatwaves, raging wildfires and devastating storms and floods we’ve seen over the last few months are constant and even more destructive. To really make a difference, the EU and European governments need to stop the greenwashing and end support for fossil fuels, polluting transport, industrial farming and deforestation,” he added.

The Commission’s 14 July package will include revisions of existing legislation and new initiatives, including on: the Energy Efficiency Directive; the Effort Sharing Regulation; the Renewable Energy Directive’ the Emissions Trading System; the Energy Tax Directive; the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation; and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.