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Commission climate law proposal: insufficient and a power grab

The European Commission’s climate law proposal, designed to ensure net zero emissions in the EU by 2050, has had an inauspicious unveiling

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2020

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described climate neutrality as ‘European destiny’.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described climate neutrality as ‘European destiny’.

by N. Peter Kramer 

The European Commission’s climate law proposal, designed to ensure net zero emissions in the EU by 2050, has had an inauspicious unveiling. Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among the signatories of an open letter describing the proposal as a ‘surrender’ of the environmental fight. On the opposite, member states have expressed concerns about proposals to give ‘Brussels’ almost ‘dictatorial’ power in climate targets.

The most striking suggestion in the Commission’s draft document is indeed a proposal to deploy a ‘delegated act’ in the fight against climate change. This act would allow the Commission to raise unilaterally mandatory targets every year from 2030. Some memberstates accused the commission of a ‘power grab’. Particular resistance is to be expected from coal heavy Poland, that rejected the 2050 net zero goal set last year. Such controversial measures could also stoke tensions between richer and poorer memberstates, already heightened by divisions over funding, immigration, judicial independence and more.

Climate activists have been underwhelmed by the ‘2030 perspective’. The first new emissions target will only come into effect in a decade. The proposal also failed to provide the 2030 emission levels. They are due to be released by the Commission in September. Some memberstates, including Germany and France, argue that this offers little time for debate before the UN climate conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, 9-19 November.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described climate neutrality as ‘European destiny’. But it will require more ambition, political savvy and an effort to ensure all memberstates see the value of the Green Deal.

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