In her first State of the Union address to the European Parliament, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyden called for a greater emissions reductions target. The EU Commission earlier this year set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Now, the president is calling for cuts of at least 55%. The 27 member countries that comprise the European Parliament would have to adopt the proposal.
“There is no more urgent need for acceleration than when it comes to the future of our fragile planet,” said von der Leyden in her address. “While much of the world’s activity froze during lockdowns and shutdowns, the planet continued to get dangerously hotter. We see it all around us: from homes evacuated due to glacier collapse on the Mont Blanc, to fires burning through Oregon, to crops destroyed in Romania by the most severe drought in decades.”
von der Leyen said she wants 37% of the €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund approved by EU countries to be spent on environmental objectives, adding that 30% of the fund should be raised through “green” bonds whose proceeds are meant to have a positive impact on the environment. The EU also plans to dedicate a quarter of its budget to address climate change and to invest €1 trillion into clean energy over the next 10 years.
“On this basis, the European Commission is proposing to increase the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55%. I recognize that this increase from 40 to 55 is too much for some, and not enough for others but our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can manage this,” said von der Leyen. “And they want it too.”
von der Leyen proposed the EU invest in hydrogen, renovation and 1 million electric charging points. She wants the EU to create new European Hydrogen Valleys to modernize industries, power vehicles and bring economic activity to rural areas.