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Last week, as the UN Climate Meeting lurched and sputtered, the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen of Germany, proposed the European “Green Deal” — a blueprint for how Europe will cut their carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, aiming to be a first-mover on creating climate-friendly industries and building clean technologies. In doing so she explained that this is their “moonshot” and that she is “convinced that the old growth model based on fossil fuels and pollution is out of date and out of touch with our planet” and they will work toward approval by the middle of next year.
Why This Matters: Countries that seize the moment to transition to a fossil-fuel-free economy will win this century, and those that do not will be left behind. Europe’s government, financial sector, and the energy industry seem to be moving in the right direction. This stands in stark contrast to the United States. They might be criticized for not raising their ambitions enough and for not moving even more transparently and quickly to get there, but at least the European Union is moving in the same direction toward cutting carbon emissions and not just because it is the morally correct thing to do, but also because they believe it will improve their prosperity.
Zero-Pollution: The objective is to reach a “pollution-free environment” — air, water, and land — by 2050.
Ecosystems & Biodiversity: A new biodiversity strategy to be proposed in March 2020, in the run-up to a UN biodiversity summit taking place in China in October.
Farm to Table Ag Strategy: A new strategy will aim for a “green and healthier agriculture” system including to “significantly reduce the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics.
Transportation: Electric vehicles will be encouraged with the objective of deploying 1 million public charging points across Europe by 2025 and “sustainable alternative fuels” – biofuels and hydrogen – will be promoted in aviation, shipping and heavy-duty road transport where electrification is not possible.
Financial Support: To “leave no-one behind,” the commission proposes a ‘Just Transition Mechanism’ to help regions most heavily dependent on fossil fuels. “We have the ambition to mobilize €100 billion precisely targeted to the most vulnerable regions and sectors.”
The Senate Democrats’ Environmental Justice Caucus laid out in a letter on Monday their vision for the next round of economic stimulus funding and the benefits in their proposal are intended to address the inequities of the virus’ impacts on the poor and minorities.
Why This Matters: These 16 Democrats are speaking up on behalf of members of low income, rural and communities of color (known as an environmental justice or frontline communities) who are especially vulnerable to the virus and don’t have access to quality health care that could vastly improve their chances of recovery.
Congress and the Trump administration are beginning to outline the Phase 4 Stimulus package, but there seems to be little mention of “clean” much less “green” provisions being included, which means there would need to be a Phase 5 package or these items will be left out completely.
Why This Matters: These items and many other similar ones that have been labeled as “green” were left out of previous bills because they were dubbed as unnecessary to battle the immediate health and economic impacts of the COVID-19.
Top Stories of 2019: This past February the announcement of the Green New Deal resolution sent reverberations throughout Capitol Hill as well as the nation. Suddenly, climate change became a major component of our political discourse.
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