In Order to Prevent “Water and Food Wars” EU has Unveiled Strict Climate Regulations

The European Union has introduced comprehensive new legislation aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent this decade and setting an example for the world’s other major economies to follow.

The European Commission’s plans vary from a de facto phasing out of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035 to new national limitations on greenhouse gas emissions from heating buildings.

According to commission officials, the goal of the “Fit for 55” legislation is to wean the continent off fossil fuels and improve environmental protection by policy design, rather than being driven into desperate measures at a future climatic tipping point when it is all but too late.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, stated that by failing to act immediately, we would be failing our children and grandkids, who, in his opinion, will be fighting conflicts for water and food if we do nothing.

The plan includes a revision of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which requires industries to pay for the carbon dioxide they release, as well as the first-ever tariffs on shipping and aviation fuels.

The commission intends to take advantage of the public’s desire for change, which has been sparked by the COVID-19 outbreak. More than a third of a huge rehabilitation package meant at restoring European economies hit by coronavirus restrictions is already being channeled into climate-related initiatives.

The new legislation will include approximately a dozen main ideas, the majority of which would build on existing rules to fulfill the EU’s old goal of a 40% reduction in gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and will need to be ratified by all 27 member countries and EU parliamentarians.

Six years ago in Paris, world leaders committed to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

According to scientists, both goals will be missed by a large margin unless immediate action is made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Given the ramifications, industry and environmental groups will undoubtedly campaign hard for the measures as they move through the legislative process over the next year.

The plan will also face opposition due to the disparities in energy mixes among member nations, which range from coal-dependent Poland to nuclear-dependent France.

A plan for a “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” is one of the more contentious components. It will levy tariffs on foreign corporations, raising the cost of specific items such as steel, aluminum, concrete, and fertilizer.

The goal is to relieve pressure on European producers that are reducing emissions but finding it difficult to compete with importers who are not bound by the same environmental regulations.

The concern is how the EU, which is known for its firm support for open trade, would ensure that the carbon price complies with WTO regulations and is not seen as a protectionist move.

Another worry is the need to assist people who are expected to be harmed by rising energy prices, and the Commission proposes establishing a “social climate fund” worth several billion euros to assist those who are likely to be harmed the most.

Many people will most likely be unable to buy zero-emission vehicles beyond 2035. Fit for 55 is expected to see a significant increase in sales of battery-powered vehicles, as the EU strives for a 100 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from automobiles.

The new measures will take effect over the following few years, with average fleet carbon dioxide emissions falling by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 2021.

The Fit for 55 provisions will need to be approved by member states and the European Parliament, a two-year process.

According to a diplomat from one EU member, the package’s capacity to be realistic and socially fair while not destabilizing the economy will determine its success.

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