15 July 2021

EU unveils vision for a climate-neutral future that makes the EU Green Deal a reality

On 14 July, the European Commission presented its ambitious roadmap for a decarbonised future, positioning the EU as a leader in the global race to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. Having agreed to reduce emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) back in December 2020, the European Commission has now published a package of 12 legislative proposals known as “Fit for 55” to reach this target, and to turn the European Green Deal into a reality.

The proposals, which will be introduced gradually from 2023-onwards, are meant to reduce reliance on fossil fuels amongst the EU-27, while increasing targets for renewables, energy efficiency and renovation. Furthermore, the proposals include measures to ramp up the development of electric cars by defining, amongst other things, an end-date for petrol and diesel cars as early as 2035.

As part of a coalition of 50 organisations representing European local and regional governments, businesses, investor groups, and NGOs, in May 2021 ICLEI called on EU leaders and Heads of States for a strong EU legislative package. In the document, as well as in ICLEI's position on the revision of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), part of the Fit for 55 package, ICLEI urged the EU to layout clear support to cities and regions in implementing the new measures, including streamlining climate and energy legislation, providing policy certainty and guidance, and prioritising projects and solutions that support the implementation of the EU’s enhanced climate objectives in national, local and regional EU public investment and funding.

The EU takes steps towards these calls in its new package of legislative proposals. By expanding the EU’s carbon market and introducing a border levy on polluting imports – toward the goal of putting a price on emission-causing and a premium on decarbonising production and products – the Commission aims to stimulate innovation, new technologies and business. A carbon market for buildings and transportation, together with support for clean fuel solutions in aviation and shipment as key polluting sectors, are also foreseen.

In order to reduce the risk and burden of rising fuel prices on individual households and make a socially fair transition in- and outside of the EU possible, an EU social fund is to be implemented to support poor and vulnerable households.

The proposed regulations and legislation have yet to be agreed upon by the European Parliament and the European Council, which will occur before they will be translated into EU law.

The letter drafted by a coalition of 50 organisations and shared in May 2021, as well as ICLEI’s position on REDII can be found here and here. Factsheets on the different areas forming part of the proposal from Forestry to energy taxation presented by the European Commission can be found here.