The European Commission has presented a proposal to enshrine in legislation the commitment to be climate neutral by 2050.
The European Climate Law sets the 2050 target and the direction of travel for all EU policy.
The Commission has also launched a public consultation on the future European Climate Pact.
With the European Climate Law the Commission proposes a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
We are acting today to make the EU the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future.
The EU Institutions and the member states are collectively bound to take the “necessary measures” at EU and national level to meet the target.
The Climate Law includes measures to “keep track of progress” and “adjust our actions accordingly”, based on existing systems such as the governance process for member states’ National Energy and Climate Plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts.
The Climate Law also addresses the pathway to achieve the 2050 target:
- Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission will propose anew 2030 EU target for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Climate Law will be amended once the impact assessment is completed.
- By June 2021, the Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to achieve the additional emission reductions for 2030.
- The Commission proposes the setting ofa 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, to measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizens.
- By September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory.
- The Commission will be empowered to issue recommendations to Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective, and Member States will be obliged to take due account of these recommendations or to explain their reasoning if they fail to do so. The Commission can also review the adequacy of the trajectory and the Union wide measures.
- Member States will also be required to develop and implementadaptation strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change.
“First climate neutral continent”
President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We are acting today to make the EU the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future.
“It is the heart of the European Green Deal. It offers predictability and transparency for European industry and investors. And it gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair.”
Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal FransTimmermans added: “We are turning words into action today, to show our European citizens that we are serious about reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“The European Climate Law is also a message to our international partners that this is the year to raise global ambition together, in the pursuit of our shared Paris Agreement goals. The Climate Law will ensure we stay focused and disciplined, remain on the right track and are accountable for delivery.”
Climate impact of materials
The Alliance for Beverage Cartons (ACE) said Europe needs to go a step further and increase the ambition of this proposal by addressing the climate impact of materials and to strengthen the link between climate, the circular economy and the bioeconomy.
Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE, said: “We fully endorse the European Commission’s objective to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.
“Today, the EU demonstrates their leadership on climate change, and presents another opportunity to foster greater innovation, green jobs and reduce harmful emissions that negatively impact our society” said
“We now encourage the EU-co-legislators to go a step further and increase the ambition of this proposal by addressing the climate impact of materials and to strengthen the link between climate, the circular economy and the bioeconomy.
“Several reports acknowledge that production and use of materials account for a substantive share of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why the substitution of high carbon materials with low carbon materials, such as sustainably-sourced renewables, is key to reach climate neutrality and reduce the need for fossil-based resources.”