"The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away.” - Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
On December 11, 2019, the European Commission presented to European Union (EU) institutions the most ambitious plan ever to fight climate change and to make its economy fully sustainable by 2050.
The European Green Deal envisions Europe being the first climate neutral continent in the world in less than 30 years - a place not that far away in time where people, goods and capital all flow with zero negative impact on our natural and environmental heritage. Though it sounds like a dream, it is a much-needed reality, a loaf of fresh air and a burst of hope for the future.
In order to step up the pace and lead the way in these unprecedented times, the European Commission created a comprehensive, cross-sector, detailed plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), reduce pollution and waste, use cleaner energy sources, improve efficiency in the use of natural resources and protect, preserve and improve our climate and environment.
With a clear and well defined roadmap in motion and a holistic focus on the environmental, economic and social implications of the transition it proposes, some of the main initiatives of the European Green Deal cover:
- European Climate Law - a pioneer legal framework proposed by the European Commission to establish a legally binding target for the EU to become fully climate neutral by 2050. It aims to adopt all necessary legal actions to enable the fulfillment of the European Green Deal’s goals, setting forth a combination of public policies, investment and capital funding mechanisms and monitoring procedures to keep track of the implementation of the European Green Deal’s policies.
- Green Deal Investment Plan - this investment plan will deploy, at least, an investment of €1 trillion to be allocated over the next decade. Part of this plan will be allocated to the Just Transition Fund, which is intended to ensure that the transition to a decarbonized and sustainable economy is made in a fair and just manner.
- Just Transition Mechanism - transforming the European Union economy into a climate neutral and green economy will inevitably affect different economic sectors and geographic regions in different ways.
Through a combination of direct funding by the EU (with the Just Transition Fund), the creation of attractive conditions to channel private investments and a public sector loan facility with the European Investment Bank, backed by the EU budget, this mechanism is destined to eliminate negative impacts and provide adequate financial and practical aid to assist companies, workers and consumers successfully in this green transition.
- Circular Economy Action Plan - one of the main pillars of the European Green Deal, this plan will implement changes along the entire life cycle of EU’s products, focusing on making production and design processes more environmentally friendly, promoting circular economy principles and waste reduction mechanisms. It seeks to encourage a shift in companies’ and consumers’ mindsets and behaviors in the use of our natural resources.
- Farm to Fork Strategy - a set of policies and legislation intended to increase organic farming, reduce the use and risk of chemicals, fertilizers and antibiotics on food production, tackling climate change and making the EU’s food system healthier.
- 2030 Climate Target Plan - it sets a renewed and more ambitious GHG reduction target, of 55% by 2030 (compared with 1990 GHG emission’s levels). It shows the European Commission's firm determination to step up the GHG reduction efforts, providing people and companies with a clear direction towards climate-neutrality by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement objectives of keeping the global temperature increase below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep it at 1.5°C.
- Sustainable Blue Economy - our oceans account for a vast majority of the planet’s surface and are a fundamental element to achieve our desired climate equilibrium. It is therefore vital that all economic activities related to the oceans are on board and included in this joint effort to reducing pollution, preserving biodiversity, harnessing the oceans’ renewable energy potential and decarbonizing maritime transportation. The European Commission presented its proposal for a new approach to a sustainable blue economy last May 17, 2021.
In Portugal, energy market players are also determined to make their business models more sustainable and eco-friendly. Together with more than 150 companies and investors like EDF, Apple, Microsoft or IKEA, EDP has signed an open letter to European institutions supporting the European Green Deal. By 2030, it wants to reduce its GHG emissions by 90% and generate 100% of its energy using renewable sources, on track to help achieve the EU's plan of being climate neutral by 2050.
Time is of the essence - each second we waste makes our success more difficult and costly.