Green MEPs have welcomed the European Parliament vote in support of the European Commission’s Green Deal for Europe in Strasbourg yesterday (15 January).
A Green Deal for Europe was unveiled by the European Commission last December as one of the key features of new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s policy platform. Climate action will be a key theme of von der Leyen’s Commission, with the European Parliament voting to declare a Climate Emergency at the end of November.
Yesterday, MEPs voted resoundingly to support the Deal, with 482 votes for, 136 against and 95 abstentions from across the political spectrum.
The Green Deal for Europe commits the EU to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with a European Climate Law to be presented within the Commission’s first 100 days. New strategies on biodiversity, industrial strategy, circular economy and sustainable food will also be presented by the Commission, while work will begin to increase the ambition of Europe’s 2030 emissions targets.
In terms of investment, the Commission will present a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to map out how it plans to mobilise the required €260 billion of additional investment per year to achieve the 2030 climate and energy targets, while a Just Transition Mechanism will be introduced to help regions that rely heavily on carbon-intensive activities.
Despite the support from the European Parliament for the Green Deal for Europe, MEPs are calling for the Deal to be made more ambitious, with demands for the upcoming Climate Law to set a 2030 goal of a 55 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 1990 and to include a 2040 interim target to measure EU progress towards carbon neutrality by 2050.
The European Parliament is also calling for a World Trade Organisation-compliant carbon border adjustment mechanism to prevent carbon leakage due to varying worldwide climate ambitions, while it wants the Just Transition Mechanism to support the end of coal production.
Green MEPs will be submitting amendments demanding that nuclear power is not used to support the green transition and all investments in fossil fuels must be brought to an immediate halt.
Additional conditions include tying the reformed agricultural policy to biodiversity and tying the EU’s budget, European Investment Bank funding and public investment to the Paris climate targets.
Green MEPs have welcomed the vote, with Green MEP Molly Scott Cato saying: “The Green deal sets the EU on a course towards restructuring the economy with a focus on climate protection, enhancing biodiversity and greening investments. As Greens we also welcome the fact that this deal will not involve nuclear power and will mean an immediate end to investment in fossil fuels.
“While the EU strides forwards on investing in the sectors and jobs needed for the green transition, the UK, led by a Tory government that seems stuck in the fossil era, will slip further and further behind our nearest neighbours. This is a tragedy for the environment, for tackling the climate emergency and for the UK economy.”
To guide progress on the Green Deal – advocates had been pushing for a ‘Green New Deal’, but the ‘new’ is conspicuously absent in the Commission's title – a new European Parliament Intergroup has been set up. The group has 126 members and will focus on involving farmers, industries, citizens and businesses in a Green New Deal, and raising awareness of what a deal might mean for everyday European life.
Co-president of the Intergroup, Green MEP Alexandra Phillips, who will soon be departing the European Parliament after Brexit at the end of the month, said: “We are at a crucial moment in history. Scientists have been warning us for decades about the catastrophic events that the climate crisis will cause, many of which we are facing right now. This Intergroup has the opportunity to influence and shape the proposals put forward by the Commission. By working together across parties and borders, we can bring together cutting edge ideas and expertise to deliver a truly Green New Deal that is so desperately needed.
“I am so proud of the important role that we Greens played in the negotiations. The European Green Deal is a major policy tool to help us finally address inequalities across Europe through the transition to a zero carbon continent. As Greens, we will keep pushing the commission to implement a Green Deal that integrates social protections and raises environmental ambition.”