New EU Climate Law to be proposed today

The European Commission will later today, Wednesday, March 4, propose a new law to “enshrine in legislation” the EU’s political commitment to climate neutrality by 2050.

The European Climate Law sets the 2050 target and the “direction of travel for all EU policy”.

The commission says that the law would give “predictability” for public authorities, businesses and citizens.

The commission is also launching a public consultation on the future ‘European Climate Pact’.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, said: “We are acting today to make the EU the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050. The law is the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future.

“It offers predictability for European industry and investors…it gives direction to our Green Growth Strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair,” von der Leyen added.

The law proposes a “binding target” of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Under the law, the EU institutions and member states are collectively bound to take necessary measures at the EU and national level to meet the target.

The law includes measures to keep track of progress and “adjust our actions accordingly”, based on existing systems, such as: the governance progress for member states’ national energy and climate plans; regular reports by the European Environment Agency; and the scientific evidence.

Under the law, progress will be reviewed every five years, in line with the “global stocktake” exercise under the Paris Agreement.

Some of the main tenants of the law include:

  • Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the commission will propose a new 2030 target for GHG emission reductions. The law will be amended once the impact assessment is complete;
  • By June 2021, the commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to achieve the additional emission reductions for 2030;
  • The commission proposes the setting of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for GHG emission reduction to measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizens;
  • By September 2023, and every fiver years thereafter, the commission will asses the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory;
  • The commission will have the power to make recommendations to members states whose actions are “inconsistent” with the climate neutrality objective, and members states will be obliged to take due account of these recommendations or to “explain their reasoning” if they fail to do so;
  • Members states will also be required to develop and implement adaption strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

Climate Pact

In a related announcement, the public consultation on the European Climate Pact has been opened today.

It will “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 consultation will be open for 12 weeks. The Climate Pact will be formally launched before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November this year.

To learn more about the consultation, click here.