With over 100 countries worldwide pledging to hit net zero emissions by 2050 – this goal became law across the European Union in 2021. The European Climate Law translates the political ambitions set out in the European Green Deal, of achieving climate-neutrality by 2050, into a legal obligation. The Climate law set the framework for the actions to be taken by the EU and its member states to progressively reduce emissions and sets the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
EU actions towards net zero
These are mostly anchored in the “Fit for 55” legislation package. The package contains legislative proposals to revise the entire EU 2030 climate and energy framework, including the legislation on effort sharing, land use and forestry, renewable energy, energy efficiency, emission standards for new cars and vans, and the Energy Taxation Directive.
- Revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)
- Revision of the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR)
- Revision of the Regulation on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)
- Amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED)
- Amendment to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)
- Amendment of the regulation setting CO2 emission standards for cars and vans
- Revision of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID)
- Revision of the Energy Taxation Directive
- EU Forest Strategy – to improve the quantity and quality of EU forests
- A carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM)
- A new Social Climate Fund
- ReFuelEU Aviation – increasing levels of sustainable aviation fuels
- FuelEU Maritime – greening Europe’s maritime space
It is not all roses: the EU is currently under pressure from some Member States to review its ambitions as a result of the ongoing energy price emergency and the economic cost of increased prices.
EU expectations on COP26
EU environmental ministers have agreed the Union’s common position ahead of COP26.
- That climate change is a direct and existential threat to humanity and biodiversity that spares no country, however global climate action is currently insufficient;
- World leaders and ministers must demonstrate their continued commitment to accelerating climate action, closing the ambition gap to bring the world in line with the Paris Agreements temperature goals;
- All Parties must come forward with ambitious national climate targets and policies and in particular major economies that have not yet done so, must communicate or update enhanced and ambitious NDCs;
- Complete at COP26 the Katowice Rulebook (the basic procedures and mechanisms underlying the implementation of the Paris Agreement) on the basis of the progress made in the informal virtual discussions since COP25 in 2019.
- Conclude on comprehensive Article 6 rules that will enable climate action, including voluntary carbon market action.
- Conclude arrangements under the Enhanced Transparency Framework;
- A proposal that all countries increase their national climate goals every five years – rather than every 10 years.
EU public sentiment on COP26
According to the biannual Eurobarometer public opinion survey commissioned by the European Commission, European citizens believe climate change is the single most serious problem facing the world. More than nine out of ten people surveyed consider climate change to be a serious problem (93%), with almost eight out of ten (78%) considering it to be very serious. Denmark was the country most concerned by climate change, followed by its northern neighbors Sweden and Finland.
A majority of European citizens, however, think their government will fail to tackle climate change, according to another survey published by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Of 27,700 survey respondents in the EU’s 27 countries, 58% said they believed their country would fail to drastically reduce its CO2 emissions by 2050, the EIB’s climate survey found.
EU figures attending
From the EU institutions:
Charles Michel – European Council President
Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission
Frans Timmermans – Executive Vice-President of the European Commission. Leads the European Commission’s work on the European Green Deal
Commissioner Kadri Simson – Commissioner for Energy
The EU will be hosting over 150 side events at the EU Pavilion in Glasgow.
Heads of state:
Emmanuel Macron – President of France
Mario Draghi – Prime Minister of Italy
Janez Janša – Prime Minister of Slovenia, representing the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU.
Stefan Lofven – Prime Minister of Sweden