EU sets out plans for climate neutrality by 2050

Key Points
  • One of the plan's key aims is for the European Union to be climate neutral by the year 2050.
  • Other goals include revising the EU's greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030.
Thierry Monasse | picture alliance | Getty Images

The EU has released details of its "European Green Deal," describing it as a "roadmap" to make the bloc's economy sustainable.

One of the plan's key aims is for the EU to be climate neutral by the year 2050. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Wednesday it would propose a European Climate Law to "enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality objective in legislation."

Other goals include revising the EU's greenhouse gas emission reductions target for the year 2030, boosting it to "at least 50% and towards 55%" compared to levels in 1990.

The Commission said the deal covered all economic sectors, including transport, agriculture, energy and buildings. Industries such as cement, steel, information and communication technology, chemicals and textiles are also covered.

In addition, a "Just Transition Mechanism" is set to be established in order to support "those regions that rely heavily on very carbon intensive activities."

In a press statement issued Wednesday the Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen said the deal focused on cutting emissions, as well as creating jobs and boosting innovation.

"I am convinced that the old growth-model that is based on fossil-fuels and pollution is out of date, and it is out of touch with our planet," von der Leyen said.

"The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy — it's a strategy for growth that gives more back than it takes away," she added.

The Commission's plans drew comment from a wide range of voices.

"The proposed package is comprehensive, identifying the right areas for action — from biodiversity and nature restoration to climate change and stopping deforestation — and it presents us with a number of new and potentially transformational initiatives," Ester Asin, director of the WWF's European Policy Office, said in a statement.

"However, by emphasising continued economic growth as a key objective, the Commission has missed an opportunity to challenge the traditional growth paradigm in favour of an approach that would respect planetary boundaries," Asin added.

"Can such 'in the box' thinking achieve the deep systemic change that was promised?"

From the business community, Ignacio Galan, the chairman and chief executive of major Spanish utility Iberdrola, said that the deal, aligned with the commitments of 2015's Paris Agreement, demonstrated, "the leadership of the European Union to tackle the most serious and urgent problem facing the world with determination and ambition."

"It undoubtedly opens the door for other economic blocs and countries to go in the same direction," he added.