EU unveils sweeping climate change plan

By Jack Burke14 July 2021

Carbon pricing in marine sector, renewable energy requirements sought

The European Union is proposing climate change legislation that would introduce carbon pricing to the marine sector and increase requirements for renewable energy in power generation.

The policies, if approved, would put the bloc - the world’s third-largest economy - on track to meet its 2030 goal of reducing planet-warming emissions by 55% from 1990 levels.

The “Fit for 55” package will face months of negotiations between the 27 EU countries and the European Parliament.

All 27 EU Member States committed to turning the EU into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To get there, they pledged to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

“We are at a pivotal moment in the world’s response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies and we are the last generation that can still act in time,” according to a statement from the European Commission, which drafted the legislation. “This decade is a make-or-break moment for delivering on our commitments under the Paris Agreement, in the interest of the health, wellbeing and prosperity of all. The EU has led by example in setting ambitious targets for reducing net emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and for being the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.”

Under the proposals, beginning in 2026 road transport will be covered by emissions trading, putting a price on pollution, stimulating cleaner fuel use, and re-investing in clean technologies.

The commission is also proposing carbon pricing for the aviation sector, which has been exempt until now. It is also proposing to promote sustainable aviation fuels – with an obligation for planes to take on sustainable blended fuels for all departures from EU airports.

“To ensure a fair contribution from the maritime sector to the effort to decarbonize our economy, the commission proposes to extend carbon pricing to this sector,” the commission wrote. “The commission will also set targets for major ports to serve vessels with onshore power, reducing the use of polluting fuels that also harm local air quality.”

The FuelEU Maritime proposal to promote sustainable maritime fuels will create new requirements for ships, regardless of their flag, arriving to or departing from EU ports, by imposing a maximum limit on the greenhouse gas content of the energy they use and making these limits more stringent over time. The upcoming Renewable and LowCarbon Fuels Value Chain Alliance will boost the supply and deployment of the most promising fuels for all modes of transport, according to the commission.

In power generation, the commission proposes to increase the binding target of renewable sources in the EU’s energy mix to 40%. The proposals promote the uptake of renewable fuels, such as hydrogen in industry and transport, with additional targets.

“The current EU target of at least 32% renewable energy by 2030, set in the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), is not sufficient

and needs to be increased to 38-40%, according to the Climate Target Plan (CTP),” according to the commission.

In addition, reducing energy consumption is essential to bring down both emissions and energy costs for consumers and industry. The commission proposes to increase binding energy savings targets at EU level and make them binding, to achieve an overall reduction of 36% by 2030.

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