The European Union proposed a dozen new laws on Wednesday, which aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The proposed laws include banning the sale of petrol, banning the sale of diesel cars, and taxing jet fuel within 20 years. “By acting now we can do things another way… and choose a better, healthier and more prosperous way for the future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. “It is our generational task… [to secure] the wellbeing of not only our generation, but of our children and grandchildren. Europe is ready to lead the way,” she continued.
The measures are likely to increase the cost of household heating bills and flights in the EU. Financial assistance will be provided for people to install insulation and make other long-term changes to their homes. The measures, which are the EU’s most ambitious plan to deal with climate change yet, have been named “Fit for 55” because they would put the EU on track to meet its 2030 goal of reducing emissions by 55% from 1990 levels, by 2019 they had already achieved 24%.
Some key proposals include: tighter emission limits on cars, a tax on aviation fuel and a tax holiday for low-carbon alternatives, a carbon border tariff which will require manufacturers from outside the EU to pay more for importing materials like steel and concrete, ambitious targets for renewable energy, a requirement for buildings that are not deemed energy efficient to be quickly renovated.
There is strong opposition within the EU to these bills. One EU diplomat told Reuters that the success of the package would rely on its ability to and realistic and fair, while not destabilizing the economy. “The aim is to put the economy on a new level, not to stop it,” they said. Opposition is also expected from airline corporations, vehicle manufacturers, and members that rely heavily on coal.
Corporate lobby BuisnessEurope denounced the plan saying it, “risks destabilising the investment outlook” for sectors such as steel, cement, aluminium, fertilisers and electric power ‘enormously’.” Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association, said “Aviation is committed to decarbonisation as a global industry. We don’t need persuading, or punitive measures like taxes to motivate change.”
Environmentalist campaigners have said the proposals do not go far enough. “Celebrating these policies is like a high-jumper claiming a medal for running under the bar,” Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said in a statement. “This whole package is based on a target that is too low, doesn’t stand up to science, and won’t stop the destruction of our planet’s life-support systems.” Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg said that unless the EU “tears up” its proposals, “the world will not stand a chance of staying below 1.5C of global heating”.
ARTICLE: JACOB ZUBY
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CBC.CA