By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The European Commission on Wednesday presented a climate plan billed as the “European Green Deal.”
The document outlines a roadmap for the EU’s economic transition, meant to transform Europe into the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050 by applying climate-friendly and sustainable solutions that also create economic development and job opportunities.
“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away,” Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission, told a press conference.
She also stressed that climate protection is at the heart of her political program, and the new commission’s number one priority is to present a European Climate Law early next year.
The package is to set the basis for climate action in every economic sector, including transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles, and chemicals.
The commission also pledged to develop a biodiversity strategy and a circular economy action plan to preserve the various species of the continent and minimize waste production.
By early 2020, the commission also plans to present their sustainable Europe investment plan, meant to help meet the ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal. According to current commission estimates, €260 billion ($288.5 billion) of additional annual investment is needed to meet the plan’s 2030 climate and energy targets, or about 1.5% of the bloc’s 2018 gross domestic product (GDP).
The European Green Deal can only succeed if it serves the interests of all European citizens, said von der Leyen.
Thus, the commission also proposed setting up a €100 billion transition fund for regions that rely the most heavily on carbon-intensive activities.
Von der Leyen acknowledged the costs of climate action, but warned that the costs of non-action could be considerably higher, saying: “We owe this to our children.”
European heads of states and government will discuss details of the deal at a Brussels summit starting Thursday. Once they approve the plan’s main guidelines, the commission can come up with legal proposals to be passed by the European Parliament and Council of the European Union, representing the member states’ governments.