The European Commission President Announced a European Green Deal, Targeting a Carbon Neutral E.U. by 2050

December 12, 2019, 9:25 AM UTC

Good morning.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the Commission’s ambitious plan for tackling climate change on Wednesday, and it’s called the European Green Deal. It’s not related to the Green New Deal in the U.S., but it has just as much potential to fall through.

“This is Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment,” von der Leyen said, unveiling a skinny 24-page document that outlines the major points of the Green Deal. The Deal aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the bloc of 28 countries (27 if the U.K. leaves) by 2050, with GHG emissions brought down to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Taken out of context, “man on the moon moment” sounds celebratory, but it’s not so much. The original moment wasn’t when Neil Armstrong made his way to the lunar surface and misspoke his immortal words but rather seven years earlier, when President JFK urged America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The E.U.’s man on the moon moment means there’s a lot of hard work ahead.

The union’s previous attempt to push a carbon-neutral agenda for 2050 was vetoed by a contingent of Eastern European countries, led by Poland, in June. The Eastern flank worried the costs of decarbonization would be unevenly spread across Europe and have demanded greater financial support.

Achieving the Green Deal will be costly. Just hitting the E.U.’s goal of keeping carbon emissions 40% below 1990 by 2030 levels will cost €260 billion in yearly investment. That figure will jump to €290 billion between 2030 and 2050. Under the Green Deal, the European Investment Bank is set to facilitate €1 trillion in funding over the next decade with €100 billion earmarked for countries like Poland that “will have to take the biggest steps.”

“If some are talking about the costs, we should always keep in mind how much more it will cost us if we don’t act now,” von der Leyen quipped during her adderess to the COP25 summit in Madrid last week, asserting that the deal will create new economic opportunities for the E.U. Indeed, some countries outside the E.U. have blasted the Green Deal as protectionism, repackaged.

China has opposed an E.U. plan  to impose a “carbon border tax” that will place a levy on imports that don’t meet the E.U.’s green manufacturing standards. The tax is designed to soothe fears inside the E.U. that new, stringent environmental standards will leave European businesses exposed to competition from cheap imports. China says it will actually damage efforts to fight climate change, somehow. Even inside Europe, not everyone is on board with the scheme.

“We do not have all the answers yet. Today is the start of a journey. But this is Europe’s man on the moon moment,” von der Leyen said. The question now is, how long it will take to get there?

More below,

Eamon Barrett


Up top

Time magazine picked Greta Thunberg, the seafaring climate change activist from Sweden, as the publication’s Person of the Year. Thunberg’s journey to Time’s front cover began last year when the then 15-year old student began the School Strike for Climate movement. Since then, Thunberg has addressed heads of state at the U.N., business leaders at Davos, and has become very much the posterchild for a new, defiant generation of climate activists. Of course, not everyone is happy with that. Time

Down below

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Out in front

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7 times

According to new research, ice across Greenland is melting seven times faster than it was in the 1990’s, putting the colossal ice sheet’s melt rate above the upper limit of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comprehensive report six years ago. The increased melt could raise sea levels 67cm by the end of the century, which is 7cm more than the IPCC estimated. That’s enough to put 400 million people at risk of annual flooding, as opposed to 360 million.

This edition of The Loop was edited by Eamon Barrett. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.

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