EU Makes Its Climate Goals Binding

Image: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr

This week, the European Union approved a law that would make the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions targets legally binding. The standard sets reduction targets at 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels, with the goal of the EU becoming an emission-free economy by 2050. The targets apply to overall EU emissions, rather than a binding requirement for each country.

As Reuters reported, the law aims to put climate at the heart of all EU policymaking, ensuring that future regulations support the emissions-cutting aims.

  • The European Commission will begin acting on this goal on July 14th that when it proposes a dozen policies to reshape industry, energy, transport and housing to emit less CO2.
  • The proposals will include EU carbon market reforms, tougher CO2 standards for new cars, and more ambitious renewable energy targets.

Why This Matters: As CNN explained, the EU and several other nations increased pledges to cut greenhouse gases and reach carbon neutrality at a virtual climate change summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in April. But until Monday, only five countries had actually made their pledges legally binding, according to Climate Watch Data: The United Kingdom and New Zealand, as well as EU members Hungary, Luxembourg, and France.

This week’s approval of the climate law finally sets member nations on a path to make the EU’s climate pledges actionable and mandatory.

New EU Regulations: Ministers from every EU country formally approved the deal on Monday, except for Bulgaria, a Bulgarian government spokesman said, “The final compromise does not reflect our national position sufficiently,” but did not elaborate on this sentiment.

This law will also order Brussels to inaugurate an independent expert body that will advise the EU on climate policies, alongside a budget-like mechanism that will calculate the total emissions the EU can produce from 2030-2050 and still meet its targets.

Today is a historic day,” said Swedish Social Democrat Jytte Guteland, the lead lawmaker on the bill. “Unless we rapidly cut our emissions, the science is crystal clear. The future will be catastrophic.”

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