Euro Attempts to Lead in Climate Fight
While leaders from around the globe were coming together to seek climate consensus at the UN Climate Conference in Madrid, the European Union is making its own efforts in Belgium. On Tuesday, December 11th, the EU met in Brussels and introduced what it is calling the “Green Deal,” an outline of policies for the bloc to implement in the fight against climate change.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the Green Deal at the EU meeting. It is her first major proposal (and a bold one at that) since she first took office on December 1st. The plan is part of an overarching ambition for the EU to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
The Green Deal aims to achieve this ambition through fifty policy measures. Among them are a $110-Billion fund to help transition away from coal, updated production standards to eliminate waste, and a carbon border tax for imports. There would also be more money set aside to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the level of trade dependency on air travel.
When von der Leyen introduced the Deal, she called it “Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment,” likely alluding to United States President John F. Kennedy’s famous “We Choose To Go To The Moon Speech” that kicked off the Space Race in 1962. Like Kennedy’s declaration to put a man on the moon, the Green Deal is unprecedentedly daring. It consciously sets out to challenge the nations involved and bring out the best in their politicians and citizens alike. If all goes well, then the end result could be beyond anything mankind has achieved in the past.
The irony in von der Leyen referencing JFK in her remarks, however, is that part of the Green Deal states that the EU will no longer engage in trade agreements with nations not participating in the Paris Climate Accords—that means to United States. Thanks to President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the global agreements set upon during the Obama Administration, the Green Deal could leave the U.S. without a few vital trading partners in Europe.
Man on The Moon is an Understatement: Resistance is a Factor
With any luck, maybe this economic incentive will convince the United States to hop back on board the Paris Accord. After all, one of the Green Deal’s primary aims is to inspire other places around the world to politically prioritize the climate crisis and lower carbon emissions. While certain governments have already made progress in these areas, the Green Deal marks the first time that a multi-nation bloc this big is directly attacking the issue on such a wide, in depth scale.
That being said, not everyone is a fan of the Deal. Although it won the support of the conservative European People’s Party (the most prevalent party in Parliament), the Green Deal has its cynics on both sides of the political spectrum. The far-right wingers fear the Deal’s potential effect on extractive industries and the economy. Meanwhile, far-left parties like the Green Party and the European United Left, are weary that the plan is not enough and that it needs to offer more solutions to additional issues.
Still, all but three of the 28 countries in the EU have agreed to the Green Deal’s 2050 carbon neutral goal. The outliers are Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, three Eastern European nations that rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels.
Understandably, the Green Deal will not get adopted and accepted overnight. There are a lot of countries that have a say in its guidelines and not all of them see eye-to-eye. Nevertheless, the fact that an entity as large and influential as the EU is proposing such a plan—and that it is getting received relatively well—is a big step for environmental progress. Soon enough, maybe the rest of the world will fall in line too, realize the dangers at hand, and compromise for the betterment of the entire planet.
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