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December 12, 2019

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
eamon.barrett@fortune.com


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CARBON COPY


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


Australia ranked bottom of 61 regions for its climate change initiatives—or lack thereof—in a report compiled by a group of climate-minded think tanks. Australia PM Scott Morrison and his government received a perfect 0.0 for climate policy in the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), with the authors calling Morrison’s government a “regressive force.” This comes as bushfires ravage the country following exceptional droughts. However, across the four categories measured by the CCPI, the U.S. is the absolute worse performer. Sweden ranks best. The Guardian


Out in front


Oil and gas giant ExxonMobil won against a New York court case that claimed the company had mislead investors on the costs of combating climate change. The case, brought against Exxon by New York Attorney General Letitia James, was only the second climate change lawsuit to go to trial in the U.S. James alleged Exxon had downplayed the risk it faces from potential climate regulation, thus making its assets appear more secure. Exxon had dismissed the claims as “baseless.” NPR


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT


Electric-Powered Commercial Airplane Makes History by Dan Catchpole 


I Worked at McKinsey. Here’s How the Firm Needs to Change by Seth Green


The Sound of Silence: Why Automakers Are Changing the Noise That Electric Vehicles (Don’t) Make by Jennifer Alsever


These Brands Have a Warning: Beware of Inauthentic Social Activism by Phil Wahba


Russia and China Have Built a New Gas Pipeline That Has Everything—Except Profit by Geoffrey Smith


SCRAPBOOK


Google has developed a tool that currently helps 100 cities to record and act on local emissions data. The Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) us mapping and standard emission models to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of a chosen city. The program also asses the area’s potential to deploy renewable energy, such as solar panels. With urban environments accounting for around 67% of global GHG emissions, it’s a nifty little tool.  



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CLOSING NUMBER


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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