On 14 July 2021, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU's climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.
The proposals outlined in the legislative package aim to align EU policies with targets agreed upon in the European Climate Law while fundamentally transforming the EU economy and society for a fair, green and prosperous future. As such, the legislative package addresses a broad range of policy areas through a comprehensive and interconnected set of proposals.
The Commission is proposing to tighten the existing EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and extend it to the maritime sector. Free emission allowances for aviation will be phased out and the ETS will be aligned with the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). In addition, a separate emissions trading system will be set up to address challenges in achieving emissions reductions in road transport and buildings.
The road transport sector, however, requires a combination of measures to address rising emissions and to compliment emissions trading. Stronger CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans will accelerate the transition to zero-emission mobility by requiring average emissions of new cars to come down by 55% from 2030 and 100% from 2035 compared to 2021 levels. As a result, all new cars registered as of 2035 will be zero-emission.
In order to ensure drivers can charge or fuel their vehicles at a reliable network across Europe, the revised Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation will require Member States to expand charging capacity in line with zero-emission car sales. This includes installing charging and fuelling points at regular intervals on major highways: every 60 kilometres for electric charging and every 150 kilometres for hydrogen refuelling.
The legislative package also includes a range of other complementary measures addressing aviation, energy taxation, and increased targets for renewable energy generation, amongst others.
Underpinning the package of proposals is the aim of achieving a socially just, green transition. While the benefits of climate policies clearly outweigh the costs of this transition in the medium- to long-term, they risk placing extra pressure on vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users in the short run. Thus, the policies are designed with the objective of fairly spreading the costs of tackling and adapting to climate change. This includes the establishment of a new Social Climate Fund to provide dedicated funding to Member States to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, new heating and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility.
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