european meeting in brussels
Photo: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Fischer Zoltán

The European Green Deal, unveiled by the European Commission on Wednesday to make the bloc carbon neutral by 2050, would likely mark a qualitative leap in the global fight against climate change if it’s fully implemented, according to Italian experts.

Described by the new president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as “our new growth strategy — a strategy that gives more back than it takes away” — the plan set ambitious targets.

The first requires the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions by “at least 50 percent and towards 55 percent by 2030” compared to 1990 levels, instead of the current target of 40 percent.

The second and ultimate goal is to “transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society … where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050.”

To achieve such targets, the European Commission said it will propose “the first European Climate Law by March 2020” to enshrine the 2050 climate neutrality target in its legislation.

To sustain the passage to a zero-emission circular economy, the EU will set up a Just Transition Mechanism with an overall investment of 100 billion euros (111 billion U.S. dollars).

As EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday discussing the Green Deal, Italian experts overall praised the initiative.

“It undoubtedly marks a qualitative leap forward in the EU Commission’s strategy, which has partially resulted from the pressure coming from the younger generations,” Gianni Silvestrini, scientific director of non-profit organization Kyoto Club, told Xinhua.

In this perspective, Silvestrini — a former energy researcher with the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the University of Palermo — believes the targets for 2030 and 2050 would be a key change factor for the whole European economy.

“The Deal provides a series of relevant inputs in various sectors, concerning for example the taxation necessary to achieve the carbon neutral goal or the boost to the electric car market,” he explained.

Indeed, the Green Deal provides a comprehensive transition roadmap for the European economy, outlining a wide list of key policies and measures.

Antonio Brunori, Arboriculture Ph.D. with the University of Perugia and secretary-general of the Italian branch of the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), agrees.

“It can represent a qualitative leap, because it does not only say that Europe needs the transition towards a circular economy in a responsible way but already suggests the required implementing measures,” he noted.

The expert said people in the forestry environmental sector had been “wondering for quite long how courageous the new EU Commission would be on this issue.”
“It is now promising to see it has addressed some aspects of the climate change adaptation problem more directly, and for example regarding the EU’s role in global deforestation,” Brunori said.

With the European Green Deal, he explained, the EU moved in fact from saying “we need to pay attention to the origins of the raw materials” (such as wood) to clearly committed to fighting “harmful practices such as illegal logging” that were behind deforestation.

“This is a clear stance, and not concerning forests in Europe only but in the entire world,” the PEFC-Italy chief said.

Brunori also praised the plan for “very clearly talking of circular economy with respect to the sector of construction and renovation, which contributes an average 14 percent of gas emissions.”

In the Deal, the Commission also makes it clear that “further decarbonizing the energy system is critical to reach climate objectives in 2030 and 2050.”

“I share this position, and I believe it will have a global impact,”Silvestrini, the Kyoto Club scientific director, said.

Silvestrini said Europe had already taken the lead in creating a market for renewable energies in 2009, by passing the directive requiring the bloc to fulfill at least 20 percent of its total energy needs with renewable sources by 2020.

In this perspective, Silvestrini recalled that China also contributed by boosting the large-scale production of renewable energy technology, and thus helping global prices to drop.

“The EU led the way some 10 years ago, and now, with its new targets, it is sending a new strong signal to all the other relevant economies in the world,” he stressed.

Both experts sounded confident, saying the new targets are achievable for the EU. Yet, they warned the plan would likely meet with some resistance, and especially of those economic sectors across Europe that still depend on fossil resources.

In addition, Brunori raised concerns about the timing of the plan. “In my opinion, the Deal needed a tighter schedule,” the forestry expert noted.

“Five or six years might be needed for it to be implemented overall, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2018 report warned some 12 years only were left to limit climate change catastrophe,” Brunori said.

Source: Xinhua – ROME

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