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EU Unveils Sweeping Climate Change Plan – How Will it Impact the UK?

Climate change plans
Published on Aug 27, 2021

The current state of the climate change crisis seems to be getting worse day by day. When global warming levels reached an alarming level, several countries joined together and signed a treaty to reduce their emissions in order to reduce the rate at which the global temperature was rising.  

The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 nations from across the world as a means to combat global warming and its repercussions. The purpose of this agreement was to gather a commitment from all those countries that had the highest emissions to cut their pollution and emission levels over time. The goal was to limit the temperature rise to up to 2 degrees Celsius in this century, ideally no more than 1.5 degrees. 

The Paris Agreement also allows developed nations to assist developing nations with reducing their emissions and creating a transparent line of change and adaptation in order to meet the goals of the agreement.  

Paris agreement for climate change

Out of all the countries in the world, the UK ranks 17th in terms of emissions. The country is responsible for 1.1% (UK Parliament) of all global emissions. The United Kingdom’s population makes up for only 0.87% (Worldometer) of the global population as of 2020, which makes the emissions rate even more disproportionate.  

Countries across Europe have taken control of the situation and managed to become greener since formally joining the Paris Agreement. Europe has become a forerunner in terms of going green and using renewable sources of energy. The first five countries with the highest proportion of renewable energy are all European nations, with Germany at the top of the list. Out of the total energy consumption in Germany, 19.3% (Umwelt Bundesamt) comes from renewable sources, which is a big leap from 5 years ago. This increase is largely due to the adoption of renewable sources of energy for electricity. More than 45% of all electricity in Germany is renewable energy. 

The UK has followed closely behind Germany as well in terms of using renewable energy for electricity. Nearly 42% (The Guardian) of all electricity consumed in the UK comes from renewable sources. This is a big leap towards reducing the country’s emissions rate, and the new climate change plan that has been passed to take effect will only boost this growth rate and put the country as the forerunner in fighting climate change. 

What is the climate change plan? 

So, when the Paris Agreement was signed, the EU was a group of nations that pledged that they would become carbon neutral by 2050. The United Kingdom was still a part of the EU then, which means that it was also a participant in this agreement. This means that the United Kingdom will produce no carbon emissions by the year 2050 and be a country that operates solely on renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, and hydroelectricity. 

Climate crisis

The EU has had to take some drastic measures to meet this goal of being completely carbon-free in less than thirty years from now. The recent proposals that have been drafted are a part of this plan. They are still pending approval, but if the countries do sign off on it, it will cause a big wave in multiple industries. 

What are the changes in the climate change proposal by the EU? 

The changes recommended by the EU if they are adopted by the countries will help European countries reduce their carbon emissions by 55% by 2030. The European Union has already managed to cut their emissions by 24% from the 1990 levels and these amendments will put them on track to meet their original goal.  

EU climate change plan countries

So what are the changes being proposed by the EU that have caused so much controversy amongst the nations? 

  • The EU wants to ideally end production and sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, which will be done by making tighter emission limits for cars. This is because transport is the only industry where the greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing over time. Overall, nearly 20%  (EUROPEAN COMMISSION) of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU come from road transportation alone. Putting stricter emission limits will drive the shift towards electric vehicles and reduce the greenhouse gas emission rate. 
  • The EU currently has a tax exemption for jet fuel, which will be lifted and a new tax on aviation fuel will be introduced. This will increase the intra-Europe travel costs for citizens and tourists. The plan is to also support greener alternatives, so the EU will offer a 10 year ‘tax holiday’ for less carbon-emitting options. 
  • The EU is also planning on introducing a carbon-border tariff. Unsustainable resources such as concrete and steel that enter European countries from non-EU nations will be taxed if they are being imported. Manufacturers will be required to pay the taxes if they want to sell to the EU market.  
  • The EU is also planning on increasing its efforts in every nation that is being made to adopt greener alternatives. This includes increasing the focus on electric transportation to promote zero emissions travelling, and mass local adoption of solar and wind energy sources for electricity. 
  • The EU also wants more and more buildings to become energy efficient and is pushing countries forward with making renovations mandatory to achieve this goal. 

These changes can destabilize the economy, which is already affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest fear of different industry leaders is that the heavy taxation on coal, fuel, automobiles and import of raw material can disrupt the economy and lead to losses. It is a lot to ask from the countries. The biggest fear is that it will be a success in terms of reducing emissions but a failure because of its socio-economic impact on the countries.  

Read also: 8 Million More: Fighting Climate Change Will Increase Energy Jobs by 50%, Study Finds 

The heavy taxation on imports will also reduce the chances of investment in the steel, cement, aluminum industries. The biggest concern for the EU citizens is the emissions caused due to home heating and electricity as well as road transport. Once most cars become electric, which they will by 2035 ideally, this problem will reduce. More countries are switching to solar power for their home electricity needs or a hybrid model to reduce their consumption of fossil fuel as well. 

The proposals still have not been approved by the council and are likely to cause a tremendous upheaval before they are implemented. These changes are very drastic for multiple industries, and corporations believe that they should not be taxed or penalized and forced into making the switch to a greener alternative.  

Industry leaders agree that sustainable and renewable sources of energy are the only way forward for all industries in the future and they claim to already be working towards developing a more sustainable model. The taxation on current practices, according to them, will only deter them from spending more resources on switching to a clean alternative source.  

ESG consulting can help those looking to make the ideal investment choices that are future-proof and push towards a cleaner, greener Europe. The ESG Advisory Services provide top-notch investment planning services to meet all client requirements. 

There are many conflicts expected to rise before the proposals get approved, and the industry leaders play only one part in them. The second side of the story lies with the climate change activists and environmentalists. They don’t believe that what the EU has proposed is nearly enough to make any actual change. What do they think? How stringent do they want the changes to be? Are their demands too radical? 

Are the climate change proposals by the EU enough to effect change? 

While the commercial industries feel like these new regulations in the proposals are unnecessary and can hamper the economic growth in the EU, the climate change activists believe that the changes made are not enough. They believe that the planet is still being destroyed at a ghastly pace and these changes are not drastic enough to make any actual difference.  

These changes, according to climate change activists, are not enough to align the EU’s goals to be carbon-free by 2050 and the climate change plan needs to be updated with newer terms. According to globally renowned environmentalist and activist Greta Thunberg, with the current proposed changes, “the world will not stand a chance of staying below 1.5C of global heating”. 

EU climate change plan

The Reaction to the Reality 

It’s impossible to please everyone. The history of humankind has proven that there is no possible way that all parties can be pleased. These proposals have stirred up quite the storm and neither the manufacturers nor the activists are happy with this move. The proposals are going to be fought till the very end before they get amended and approved for the European Union. 

Climate change is a real threat. The alarming rate at which the temperatures are rising can be the downfall of all humanity. We still have some time before we reach a point of no return, so we need to try to repair as much damage as we can before it gets too late. This planet is our only home, and we need to take care of it to the best of our ability. These changes and rapid proposals being drafted so regularly showcase the urgency of the cause, and prove the enormity of the current situation of the planet.