The European Union has announced a series of policies that would make it a leader in combatting the effects of climate change. The policies would employ tariffs and taxes to reach carbon emissions goals and would, in 14 years, take new gas- and diesel-powered cars off the market, the New York Times reports. In nine years, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced 55% from 1990 levels, in an effort to hit the global goal of achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. "Our current fossil fuel economy has reached its limit," the European Commission's president said Wednesday in Brussels, per CNN, saying these proposals are a road map to help it reach its goal. More:
- The plan would need to be approved by the EU Parliament and the 27 nations that belong to it before taking effect. The negotiations over the final form could well be contentious; there already was much squabbling over the draft proposals, per the BBC.
The plan would:
- Slap tariffs on goods coming from nations outside the EU without such stringent environmental rules. The carbon border-adjustment tax would apply to such imports as steel, cement, and fertilizer from countries including the US, China, and Russia, the Guardian reports. The tariff has been criticized as protectionist.
- Add a tax on aviation fuel. Low-carbon alternatives would enjoy a 10-year tax holiday.
- Push countries to quickly renovate buildings that are not energy efficient.
- Raise renewable energy goals in EU nations.
- Increase the cost of heating a home and traveling by plane. That could impose a disproportionate cost on poor people. One official warned that protests could follow. "We experienced it in France. It gave us the yellow vests," he said.
"We're going to ask a lot of our citizens," said the EU's climate policy chief. "We're also going to ask a lot of our industries, but we do it for good cause. We do it to give humanity a fighting chance."
Complaints are coming from:
- Business, with a lobbyist saying the policies could destabilize some industries, and an air cargo group saying it doesn't need "punitive measures like taxes to motivate change."
- Environmental organizations, which say that they appreciate the effort but that it's not nearly enough. "This whole package is based on a target that is too low, doesn't stand up to science, and won't stop the destruction of our planet's life-support systems," said the EU director of Greenpeace.
- Greta Thunberg, who tweeted that the EU needs to start over, or "the world will not stand a chance of staying below 1.5C of global heating."
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