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February 3, 2020
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European Green Deal: the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050?

On 11 December 2019 the European Commission communicated the European Green Deal (“Green Deal”) for the EU and its citizens that aims to reset the Commission’s commitment to tackling  climate and environmental-related challenges, toward sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Commission has prepared concrete actions that will offer a strong basis for the Green Deal. It is an integral part of the Commission’s strategy to implement the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Benefits include zero pollution, affordable and secure energy, smarter transport and high-quality food. Further policy areas include the following:

Clean energy - Opportunities for alternative, cleaner sources of energy
Sustainable industry - Ways to ensure more sustainable, more environmentally-respectful production cycles
Building and renovating - The need for a cleaner construction sector
Sustainable mobility - Promoting more sustainable means of transport
Biodiversity - Measures to protect our fragile ecosystem
From Farm to Fork - Ways to ensure more sustainable food systems
Eliminating pollution - Measures to cut pollution rapidly and efficiently

The Green Deal aims to respond to these challenges through a new growth strategy that will transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. It also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts.

This transition however must be just and inclusive, by putting people first and paying due attention to the key regions, industries and workers who face the greatest challenges. Needless to say that active public participation and consultation in decision-making, as well as transparency and accountability must be the main drivers of such ambitious exercise. In fact, the Commission will launch a European Climate Pact by March 2020 to focus on three ways to engage with the public on climate action.

Please find below Figure 1 that illustrates the various elements of the Green Deal (Source: https://bit.ly/393A5iR):

More specifically, to deliver the Green Deal, the Commission set out the following transformative policies and new initiatives:

  • Increasing the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050
  • Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way
  • Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility
  • From ‘Farm to Fork’: designing a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system
  • A zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment
  • Mainstreaming sustainability in all EU policies
  • Pursuing green finance and investment and ensuring a just transition
  • Greening national budgets and sending the right price signals
  • Mobilising research and fostering innovation
  • Activating education and training
  • A green oath: ‘do no harm’

The EU continues to be a leading forerunner in promoting and implementing environment, climate and energy policies. However, it cannot undertake such tremendous task alone and, therefore, cooperation by all Member States, other countries and all relevant stakeholders is imperative. As the world’s largest single market the EU can continue to set global standards. Ultimately, we must all work together in the best interest of current and future generations.

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