Europes "Green Deal": What we have to expect

By 2050 the EU will be climate neutral, according to the Commission's plan. Everything Europe's energy, agriculture and consumers now have to deal with. 

The new EU Commission is starting work with a big undertaking for the climate. From 2050 no new greenhouse gases are to be emitted in the EU. The "Green Deal" also includes an interim target for 2030, by which time emissions should be 50 to 55 percent below 1990 levels. A minus of only 40 percent was previously planned.




This requires far-reaching restructuring of industry, energy supply, transport and agriculture. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls the Green Deal a "growth strategy" and plans numerous laws and programmes: The industry's abandonment of fossil fuels, import restrictions for climate-damaging goods and a strategy for clean transport. This also includes new emission limits for cars and the trading of pollution rights, including for shipping. Pollution rights are to be made more expensive for airlines. There are also plans to speed up the expansion of green energy.


New standards for clean air and clean water, an agricultural reform geared to the environment and climate and a drastic reduction in pesticides and fertilisers are to be introduced. There is also a plan to reforest and conserve forests. Behind some points there are new conversion aids for citizens, companies and states. They are to be financed from a billion-euro fund. In total, von der Leyen wants to initiate green investments for a trillion euros.




The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland had expressed concerns about the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. All three countries are dependent on coal as an energy source. Before the summit, they insisted on clear commitments for financial aid, because the restructuring of the energy supply is particularly expensive for them. Poland, for example, receives 77 percent of its electricity from coal. 

Therefore Poland is completely exempt from the Green Deal for the time being. "We will achieve it at our own pace," the Polish EU representative announced. The decision on possible climate neutrality will not be made until summer 2020. For the Czech Republic, it should also be mentioned that it is allowed to use nuclear power plants. The country had previously insisted on classifying nuclear energy as a green energy source.


Critics and supporters


Critics attack von der Leyen's plans from two sides. For environmental associations and the Greens the plan does not go far enough. Until 2030 the CO₂-emissions should be lowered by 65 per cent, demands for instance Greenpeace. Conservative politicians and industry, on the other hand, say that the current goal of climate neutrality by 2050 is impossible to achieve. The Federal Association of German Industry recently spoke of "magical thinking". Even the short-term goals are unattainable.

However, the new EU Commission also has allies. The European Central Bank under its new head Christine Lagarde is interested in a green monetary policy and could turn out to be a support in the Green Deal.