Von der Leyen’s ambitious EU climate plan: “The nightmare is only just beginning”

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Olivier Hoslet / AFP via Getty Images

Ursula von der Leyen gave her first State of the Union address on Wednesday. The most important point in it: climate policy.

The new Commission President envisions a Green Deal for the European Union. According to von der Leyen, Europe should become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. To achieve this, you have to act faster and “do our thing better.”

In concrete terms, this means that CO2 emissions in the EU are to be reduced by 55 percent by 2030 – 15 percentage points more than the EU targets previously envisaged. According to calculations by the EU Commission, investments in energy production and use alone would have to be increased by 350 billion euros annually for the new climate target compared to the past ten years. The consumption of coal is to decrease by 70 percent compared to 2015, and the share of renewable energies in total energy consumption is to increase to up to 40 percent.

In her speech to the EU Parliament, von der Leyen said that she knew that some would go too far to raise the savings target. “But our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can handle this.”

The economy and industry see it very differently. Especially the German auto industry, which would be particularly affected by the plans.

“Ambitious climate protection is the right thing to do,” said the President of the Association of the Automotive Industry, Hildegard Müller. But the proposals of the EU commission are “very dirigistic”. Von der Leyen should also clearly state the costs of their plans: “It is also clear that the new climate targets will have an impact on the competitiveness of our companies, Europe as an industrial location and thus on employment and growth.”

In any case, it is questionable to what extent von der Leyen can implement her Green Deal in Europe. Because it cannot simply implement the climate targets contained therein. The approval of the 27 EU member states is required – and that is anything but certain.

The EU would have to save as much CO2 each year as Germany produces each year

Because behind the figure of 55 percent by 2030 there is a whole bunch of measures and costs that the EU would have to face: Agriculture would have to be modernized and made more climate-efficient; CO2 trading would need to be reformed to create incentives for low-carbon production; the renovation of buildings would have to be regulated anew; Investments in alternative drives and energies in the billions would have to be paid.

In total, the EU would have to save almost 740 million tons of CO2 annually by 2030 in order to achieve the targeted additional savings of 15 percent. That roughly corresponds to Germany’s annual CO2 emissions.

“Bringing it all together – the nightmare has only just begun,” a senior EU diplomat told Politico magazine.

“Everyone is holding their breath and waiting for the EU to go ahead”

It will be the task of the German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) to get through this nightmare. She will lead the negotiations between the EU member states on new climate targets. There should be a result by the end of the year.

“The most difficult part will be to come to a political agreement on how each member country will reduce its emissions in the transport sector and in urban areas,” said Spanish Environment Minister Teresa Ribera “Politico”. That would have to be an agreement that is feasible and within the scope of the possibilities of each individual country. ”

In an interview with the magazine, Danish Energy and Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen made it clear how much is at stake beyond the EU: “If the EU does not succeed in adopting a more stringent climate target this year, it will be great It will be difficult to get other major emitters to set themselves more ambitious goals. Everyone is holding their breath and waiting for the EU to go ahead. ”

Climate change: What happens in Germany when the temperature rises by 1.5 degrees Celsius

jg / With material from the dpa


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