On 11th December the new European Commission published the "European Green Deal" (COM(2019) 640). The Green Deal “resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges [...] It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. It also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU's natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts. At the same time, this transition must be just and inclusive.”
The Commission's published Communication on the Deal sets out an initial roadmap of the main strategies and measures needed to achieve the European Green Deal, but remains open to future relevant and appropriate updates. The Commission stresses that all EU policies and strategies must contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the European Green Deal. Among other things, the deal is seen as part of the strategy for implementing the United Nations' Agenda 2030 and the goals for sustainable development.
The Commission intends to propose the first European “Climate Law” by March 2020 “to set out clearly the conditions for an effective and fair transition, to provide predictability for investors, and to ensure that the transition is irreversible.” The objective of climate neutrality by 2050 is thereby enshrined in legislation, while ensuring that future EU policies contribute positively to achieving this goal.
The Green Deal and mobility
In section 2.1.5. of the Communication, the Commission sets out its priorities for mobility. It notes that the transport sector accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and that the trend is still pointing upwards. In order to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, transport-related emissions must be reduced by 90 per cent by 2050. Accordingly, the Commission announces in the deal to adopt a strategy for sustainable and intelligent mobility before the end of this year. The deal clearly focuses on the expansion of multimodal transport concepts. “As a matter of priority, a substantial part of the 75% of inland freight carried today by road should shift onto rail and inland waterways.” Similarly, the focus should increasingly be on automated and connected multimodal mobility.
The effects of transport services on the environment and health should be reflected in prices, which means, among other things, the abolition of subsidies and tax exemptions on fossil fuels. In view of the current poor state of negotiations on road charging and the Eurovignette Directive, the Commission once again emphasises that it is willing to retain the original proposal for the time being, but “is ready to withdraw it if necessary and to propose alternative measures.” The production and deployment of sustainable alternative transport fuels should also be ramped-up. The Commission is prepared to support the development of public recharging and refueling stations where gaps exists, for example in long-distance transport and in less densely populated areas.
In order to counteract congestion in cities and the resulting damage to the environment and health, the Commission intends to propose stricter limits for air pollutant emissions from vehicles with internal combustion engines. Although the negotiations on the new CO2 standards were only recently concluded, the Commission intends to renegotiate them. They will propose to revise the legislation on CO2 emission standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by June 2021.