Commission tables European Climate Law

Core for the Green Deal, it offers predictability and transparency for industry and investors

Photo: EU Ursula von der Leyen.

As promised in its Work Programme for this year, the Commission tabled on 4 March the European Climate Law that along with the existing framework will help the EU to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This draft legislation is also in the core of the European Green Deal and aims as well to strengthen efforts on adaptation to climate change. 

On the same day, the executive started seeking feedback on its proposal for a directive on a new EU scheme on emissions trading or so called carbon border adjustment mechanism. It will ensure that the price of imports reflect more accurately their carbon content, mitigating the risk of carbon leakage in cases when EU’s international partners do not share the same climate ambition as the Union.

The second inception impact assessment published by the Commission was on the revision of the Energy Tax Directive, also essential policy mechanism in the European Green Deal toolbox, aligning taxation of energy products and electricity with EU energy and climate policies and removing fossil fuel subsidies.

Saying that “we are acting today to make the EU the world's first climate neutral continent by 2050”, EC President Ursula von der Leyen stated: “climate neutrality is our European destiny”.

 According to the EC President the Climate Law is “the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future”. It offers predictability and transparency for European industry and investors and gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair, she pointed out.

As Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans stressed the European Climate Law “is also a message to our international partners that this is the year to raise global ambition together, in the pursuit of our shared Paris Agreement goals”. The Climate Law will ensure we stay focused and disciplined, remain on the right track and are accountable for delivery, he said.

 With the Climate Law the EU institutions and the EU27 are collectively bound to take the necessary measures at European and national level to meet the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Among the measures in the Commission’s proposal are keeping track of headway and adjust the actions concerning Member States' National Energy and Climate Plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts. Every five years will be analysed the progress, in line with the global stocktake exercise under the agreement from Paris.

To get to the 2050 goal, the Commission will propose a new 2030 EU target for greenhouse gas emission reductions, based on a comprehensive impact assessment. When the assessment is completed, the Climate Law will be amended accordingly. By mid-2021, the executive will review all relevant policy tools as to achieve extra emission reductions for 2030.

The setting of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, proposed by the Commission, will measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizens. Five years later, it will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory.

Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective will receive recommendations by the Commission and they will be obliged to observe them or to explain their argument if they fail to make it.

EU countries will also be required to develop and implement adaptation strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

As all sectors of society and economy have a part to play in the transition to a climate-neutral Union, the Commission kicked off on the same day a public consultation for three months on a new European Climate Pact. The idea is to give citizens and stakeholders a voice and role in designing new climate actions, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and showcasing solutions that others can follow. The proposals will be used to outline the Climate Pact, which will be presented before COP26 in Glasgow, scheduled for November this year.

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