October 17, 2021

EU unveils ambitious climate package as it cools on fossil fuels

The European Union has unveiled some of the world’s most ambitious proposals to reduce carbon emissions and wean its 27 members off fossil fuels, including taxes on emissions-heavy imports into the union and non-renewable energy, such as oil, gas and coal.

The package of measures looks to fundamentally transform the world’s single largest trading bloc. It touches on almost every area of economic activity — from how citizens heat their homes and commute, to a total upheaval of manufacturing practices. The EU last month enshrined in law its target to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, but on Wednesday unveiled the aggressive 10-step program, titled “Fit for 55,” which is a roadmap for how it will achieve its reduction.

At a press-conference in Brussels on Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Europe had become the first continent with “a comprehensive architecture” to meet its climate ambitions. “We have the goal, but now we present the roadmap to how we are going to get there,” she said. “We know, for example, our current fossil fuel economy has reached its limits. And we know we have to move on to new model one that is powered by innovation, that has clean energy that is moving toward a circular economy.”

While the package is bold, climate activists have criticized the 55% target for not being strong enough to contain global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The plan is also unlikely to be implemented in the way that von der Leyen and her fellow commissioners have envisioned. First, it must go through the EU’s exhaustive legislative process. It will need to be read, amended and approved by both lawmakers in the EU Parliament and the EU Council, the forum in which the elected leaders of each member state debate such matters.