Climate change: the EU environmental policies and challenges

European climate law was adopted on 28th June 2021 and the main strategy is to be a climate neutral EU by 2050. The law is followed by enabling framework that benefits all member states

During past years, the EU adopted different policies in order to mitigate effects of global warming and accordingly climate changes. Ambitious legislation of EU countries led to critical goals (in order to prevent 2⁰C increase in temperature and its effects for nature and people): reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reaching net-zero CO₂ emissions.

The main goal - 55% fewer greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 - is a trigger to key sectors of the economy to reduce greenhouse gas emission. European climate law was adopted on 28th June 2021 and the main strategy is to be a climate neutral EU by 2050. The law is followed by enabling framework that benefits all member states and encompasses adequate instruments, incentives, support and investments to ensure a cost efficient and socially balanced, also fair transition taking into account different national circumstances and starting points.

There are a lot of challenges deriving from wanted goals like:

  • Sustainable production VS economic growth,
  • Health and environmental benefits for EU citizens,
  • Competitiveness of EU economy in the world in the line of new green technologies,
  • Energy challenges and innovations,
  • Creating jobs and balanced social security and fair conditions for everyone
  • The importance of public as well as private sector contributions to climate action.

In order to achieve set goals, budget is the key word since at least 30% of the total expenditures in the EU should be dedicated to climate-related projects. In order to reach targets, it is not enough to create a sustainable and green economy in the EU, but also help developing countries reach the same. Therefore, financial contributions for tackling climate change are the priority of EU financial institutions – EBRD, EIB, COEB.

The core of all policies is the action:

  • editing less greenhouse gas:

    1. by modernizing production forcing companies to use greener fuels or solar / wind energy instead of fossil fuels,
    2. setting up limits of the amounts of emissions which industrial plants and transport means release into the air until total cut,
    3. recycling emissions in secondary industry, heat etc;

  • absorbing more by removing carbon from the atmosphere by growing forests instead of cutting them constantly, creating “carbon sinks” for absorption of CO₂ emissions;
  • clean forms of transport by using water power, electric vehicles, hydrogen airplanes, electric trains;
  • supporting innovation and science to find out new environmental friendly technologies, make greener industry, cities, buildings, apartments, parks, streets, each and every corner of the world;
  • improve standards and limit the possibility of air, soil and water pollution;
  • education of young people, constant education and “word spreading” about helping our planet survive.

Actions can be further forced through different smaller activities on all fields and aspects of human life and every human being should take part in it, like:

  • use environment friendly means of transport – bicycle or electric train, by electric car;
  • help companies develop low carbon technologies by using low interest loans and financial support from countries;
  • develop digital technologies and digital infrastructure;
  • food production without pesticides and fertilizers, no use of GMO seeds, no use of gas tractors or agricultural machines that pollute soil and air, grow plants everywhere;
  • recycle materials, make efficient ways to collect waste and recycle for reuse;
  • encourage people to take action, educate them, make competitions, create innovative partnerships with young people with initiatives;
  • exchange know-how between countries, make bilateral agreements to use knowledge and implement greener industry, homes and energy everywhere in the world;
  • organize seminars, webinars and other accessible ways to distribute experience in implementing climate change mitigation actions,
  • developing climate intelligence, assessing climate risks, preparing actions, making transformations and transitions in industries and policies.

If nothing is done, let’s see some figures:

  • temperature rise for 2.2⁰C, sea level going up;
  • more floods, earthquakes, volcano’s eruption, soil erosion, forests burned;
  • deaths increase by extreme weather conditions and diseases;
  • economic losses for mitigating severe weather conditions or consequences of floods, fires.

Investigation of this matter led to a lot of wording, but little action already done. Still, there are some highlights and actions already made:

  1. Airbus is developing an airplane that uses hydrogen for goods and people transport over the world. The aim is to neutralize carbon emissions, make planes less massive and use small planes for goods transport. Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker announced Nokia to be their customer on CO₂ free freighter flights;
  2. Thales LAS France SAS is developing drones for transport means, that can be used in health sector as well as transport;
  3. Volocopter and DB Schenker demonstrated electric heavy-lift cargo drone VOLODRONE, integration into the logistics supply chain;
  4. LKW Walter is developing combined transport which is CO₂ reducing, sustainable and efficient;
  5. Volocopter made a prototype of flying taxi in Rome, ready to be in operational use in 2024, carbon free, quiet and reliable;
  6. Sicily started producing coffee due to climate changes, it can be new distributor in Europe;
  7. Carbfix in partnership with Climeworks, Iceland turns CO₂ into stone by taking CO₂ from the air and transforming it to a stone, cutting emissions;
  8. The Netherlands has a new initiative MeerBomenNu – more trees now, creating new forests fast, planning to have 37000 hectares of forests more by 2030;
  9. Amsterdam has self-driving electric boats driven by artificial intelligence;
  10. Paris is planning to be 100% cyclable city within 4 years
  11. Theiss Thermal power plant replaced old gas turbines with gas turbine capable of hydrogen co-firing;
  12. Hydrogen Science Coalition was founded on Thursday, 2nd December 2021 – scientists and academics bringing the evidence based view on hydrogen’s role in the energy transition, with the aim of ensuring that any public investment in hydrogen reflects the most effective path forward to net-zero emissions.
  13. One project that is worth mentioning is the POWERPOOR project. The main goal of this idea is not only to support initiatives for energy poor citizens, but also to motivate the use of alternative financing schemes. Moreover, their goal is the implementation  of small-scale energy efficiency interventions, as well as the installation of renewable energy sources.

The latest event took place on 23.11.2021 trying to tackle energy poverty in cities by discussing with representatives from the Covenant of Mayor. In addition to this, regarding the countries, Spain is a priority for the moment and identifies the solutions on how energy poverty can be diminished by coming with opportunities, best practices.

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