NEWS & ANALYSIS

BACK TO THE STONE AGE: Europe Announces Plan for Carbonless Future


Europe unveiled a plan for a sharply decarbonized future Wednesday, which is planned to take place over the next nine years across 27 countries. 

The effort, pushed by the European Commission, puts Brussels in the lead of the world’s efforts to decarbonize and reach the goal of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, per the New York Times. 

To reach the goal, Brussels has committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases 55 percent by 2030. 

Currently, the European Union produces only about 8 percent of the global carbon emissions. However, since the beginning of the industrial age, its cumulative emissions are among the highest in the world. 

Over the same period, the United States has promised to reduce emissions 40 to 43 percent. 

“Europe was the first continent to declare to be climate neutral in 2050, and now we are the very first ones to put a concrete road map on the table,” Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission’s president, said Wednesday. 

“We’re going to ask a lot of our citizens,” the Commission’s executive vice president, Frans Timmermans, said. “We’re also going to ask a lot of our industries, but we do it for a good cause. We do it to give humanity a fighting chance.” 

One of the key proposals announced is a revision of Europe’s carbon market, known as the Emissions Trading Scheme, under which carbon producers like steel, cement and power pay directly for their emissions. 

The proposed laws, dubbed “Fit for 55” will inevitably be debated and amended before becoming binding. 

The New York Times reports: 

The proposals are designed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas; to expand the use of renewable-energy sources including solar, wind and hydro power to at least 38.5 percent of all energy by 2030; to force the faster development of electric cars with much tighter CO2 limits and hope to end the sale of all internal-combustion cars by 2034 (a target that some countries, like France, believe is too strict); and to support clean-energy options for aviation and shipping, which are prime polluters.