Fit for 55-Europe’s new climate roadmap
2. Aug. 2021
More ambitious targets, stricter requirements for EU member states, extensive legal changes – in order to be able to achieve the EU climate goals, the European Commission proposes a realignment of the EU’s economy and society in its climate protection program.
European Commission presents comprehensive climate protection program
“Fit for 55” is the name of the new climate protection program presented by EU Vice President Frans Timmermans in Brussels. Its name refers to the European goal of achieving emission reductions of at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Before, the target was 40 percent. This reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a central measure that is to contribute to Europe’s goal of becoming the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050 and to meet the European Green Deal of 2019. However, according to the European Commission, this would require an EU-wide transformation of different areas such as climate, transport, energy and taxation. In this context, the package contains twelve draft laws that could be used to implement a strategy to achieve the goals set out in the European climate law. For member states, companies and private households in Europe, the new climate protection roadmap would entail significant changes.
Mandatory CO2 pricing and reform of European emissions trading
Currently, about 40 percent of EU-wide carbon dioxide emissions are covered by emissions trading. A central proposal of the European Commission regarding the emissions trading is particularly relevant for industries and power plants, but also for tenants and commuters: a reduced supply of emission reduction certificates, higher costs for carbon dioxide emissions and a Europe-wide CO2 price obligation on heating oil, gas, or petrol, as it already exists in Germany for instance.
Social climate fund for lower-income EU member states
EU member states have different means with which they can finance climate transformation. The European Commission suggests a social fund in order to help its lower-income members with the transition. By offering this financial support, the Commission plans to mitigate the impact of higher fossil fuel prices on consumers such as commuters or tenants. Moreover, it should provide financial relief to low-income private households. For instance, the Commission plans to provide financial aid for switching to an electric vehicle and rural regions should receive support for expanding e-charging stations.
Grenzabgabe zum Schutz europäischer Unternehmen
Brussels also recommends the introduction of a border tax for foreign companies that want to import their products, such as steel, cement, or electricity, into the EU, particularly if the manufacturing is less environmentally friendly. This is to prevent carbon leakage and the moving of European companies to other regions in the world. In view of higher carbon prices in the global competition, the Commission plans to protect European producers from unfair foreign competition.
Automobile industry: Electric motor to replace combustion engine
About a quarter of Europe’s carbon emissions are currently produced by traffic. The European Commission therefore proposes stricter CO2 limits for new cars: From 2030 onwards, cars should emit about 60 percent less carbon dioxide, and by 2035, only emission-free cars should be allowed. By 2050 at the latest, this would signify the end for new cars that are driven by combustion engines. Although the number of e-cars is currently increasing in Germany, it is still negligible. To make the switch to electric cars more attractive, electric charging stations must be substantially expanded across the EU. In the future, for example, an electro charging station could be set up every 60 kilometers on highways and a hydrogen filling station every 150 kilometers. The aim: 3.5 million charging stations by 2030, and 16.3 million by 2050.
Stricter requirements for the aviation and maritime transport sectors
Brussels also has stricter regulations in store for the aviation industry. For example, the Commission suggests a constantly increasing minimum tax rate on paraffin fuel for flights within Europe, which has not been taxed up to now, apart from national exceptions. With addition of sustainable aviation fuel, the aircraft propulsion is to become more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the number of emission reduction certificates available for the aviation sector is to be reduced and the granting of free credits to be scaled down. As far as shipping is concerned, the EU proposal is to fuel all ships arriving at a European port with an environmentally friendly fuel mixture that complies with European requirements.
New target for the expansion of renewables
A sustainable and more environmentally friendly energy system in which the generation of electricity from renewable sources dominates is crucial for a clean climate transformation. In order to meet the Green Deal, the European Commission therefore plans that the expansion of renewables should accelerate. The new target: an increase of 40% by 2030, instead of 32% so far.
The European Commission’s proposals met with highly controversial reactions from the public. The European Parliament, for example, supported the commission’s recommendation on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). Politicians and economists, on the other hand, criticized the program, and representatives from the industry were concerned about possible disadvantages in international competition. Environmental protection organizations criticized that the climate targets were still too low. They called for political decision-makers to take much stricter measures against climate change that can also be implemented more rapidly.
The European Parliament as well as the European Council and the member states have yet to approve the commission’s climate program. However, the debate is expected to last several years.
More details on the European Commission’s climate protection roadmap can be found here.