I thank the Chair and committee members for scheduling today’s meeting to discuss European climate law.
The EU Commission's communication on the European green deal, which was published on 11 December 2019, confirmed the Commission’s ambition to make the EU the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. On 12 December 2019, the European Council endorsed the objective of EU climate neutrality by 2050. In its resolution of 14 March 2019 on climate change, the European Parliament also endorsed the objective of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In its resolution of 14 March 2019 on climate change, European Parliament also endorsed the objective of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I will now deal with the two communications being considered by the committee today.
COM (2020) 80, or the European climate law, seeks to write into law the goal set out in the European green deal - for Europe’s economy and society to become climate neutral by 2050 - by cutting emissions and increasing the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to reach net zero emissions. It also sets out the framework to achieve EU climate neutrality and aims to enhance efforts on adaptation to climate change.
The proposal for a European climate law regulation forms part of a broader package of ambitious actions announced in the Commission’s European green deal communication. The European green deal launches a new growth strategy for the EU that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society improving the quality of life of current and future generations 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 climate and environment-related risks and impacts.
The key elements of COM (2020) 80 include setting a pathway to climate neutrality for the Union and providing certainty and confidence for businesses, workers, investors and consumers about the EU’s commitment; setting out conditions for a trajectory for the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050; providing for regular assessment of progress towards the climate neutrality objective and the level of ambition in the trajectory identified; providing for mechanisms in case of insufficient progress or inconsistencies with the climate neutrality objective - the EU Commission may make recommendations to member states; providing for more ambitious action on climate adaptation, including by strengthening efforts relating to climate proofing, resilience building and prevention and preparedness; providing that the EU Commission should review existing Union policies and legislation in view of their consistency with the climate neutrality objective as well as the trajectory identified to achieve that objective; and providing that the European Commission should assess and make proposals to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target under any existing policy instruments that have a 2030 perspective so that the reduction target is consistent with the 2050 climate neutrality objective. It also provides that following presentation of an impact-assessed plan to increase the EU's greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 to at least 50% and towards 55%, the Commission will amend this regulation accordingly and by June 2021, review and propose where to revise, where necessary, all relevant related policy instruments. It also provides for consequential amendments to Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action.
COM (2020) 563 amends COM (2020) 80, the main elements of which I have just outlined. The original proposal stated that the Commission would present by September 2020 an impact-assessed plan to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 from at least 40% to at least 50% and towards 55% compared with 1990 levels. With a view to achieving climate neutrality in the Union by 2050, the amending proposal is that the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced and removals enhanced so that net greenhouse gas emissions, that is emissions after deduction of removals, are reduced economy-wide and domestically by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The impact assessment demonstrates that increasing the EU’s emission reduction target for 2030 to at least 55% is both feasible and beneficial. It shows that an increase of the target implies greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts by all sectors and enhancement of removals, which need to be enabled by various policies. I should add that a partial general agreement was reached in October at the Environment Council. I am very happy to expand on any of these or any other elements of the proposals being considered by the committee today and to take whatever questions the committee may have.