December 12, 2019
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.”
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,
has opposed an E.U. plan to impose a
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?