Last Monday, on 28 June, the European Union decided to move a step closer to combating climate change by adopting the first climate law at the EU level. The main objective of this legal document is to establish a climate-neutral EU by 2050.
Even if this piece of legislation may appear as just another political arrangement at the EU level whose effects for citizens and the Union as a whole may take ages to be perceived, this is not the case. For the first time, the EU has decided to establish a legal obligation concerning climate change; It is not a recommendation or a guideline for which non-observance may equal impunity; Instead, compliance with what is established in this legislation has now become mandatory for the The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States and the Union as a whole.
Why a law on climate?
Back in 2016, the EU started to give signals towards its commitment to combat climate change. Similarly, EU politicians knew that it was time to re-think the Union’s strategy towards combating climate change. Mechanisms such as awareness-raising campaigns, recommendations, and guidelines on the topic were effective but did not impose a legal obligation, but rather a moral one. Consequently, the fight for climate change was left at the discretion of The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States. However, a step further was needed; the idea of a legally binding EU document on climate was born. As a first move, already in 2016, the EU and its The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States ratified the Paris Agreement. This document is the first worldwide legally binding global climate change compromise that intends to limit global warming and support its members to reduce their impact on climate. Inspired by this agreement, the EU agreed on the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by 2050. However, this was rather a political act; It was merely a roadmap to see how the Union was ready to move.
In 2020, things started to change. Throughout the year, significant changes towards a greener EU were set into the Union’s agenda. With the adoption of the European Green Deal (which we reported about here), the The EU’s politically independent executive arm. It is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the
After lengthy negotiations between the The EU’s directly elected legislative body comprised of 705 members. It is involved in policymaking but it does not have the power to propose new legislation.
European Parliament and the An institution representing the
A climate-neutral EU: What does this mean?
The core objective of the European climate law is to create a climate-neutral EU by 2050. It intends to set a new balance in the EU that contributes to the compensation of greenhouse gas emissions. But how is this law supposed to achieve its goal?
It will establish a binding obligation to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. The binding character of it implies that compliance will be mandatory for the The 27 countries that are part of the EU. See the list of all members here. Member States. Nevertheless, the existence of an obligation is linked to the need for actions that contribute to its fulfilment. In this case, the European climate law intends to promote policies that favour renewable energy, energy efficiency, cleaner transport, circular economy, and greener farming. These actions will be used to put the established climate target into practice.
In addition, the European climate law mandates the creation of a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, which will act as a guardian of the EU objectives; It will ensure that the EU climate policies comply with the obligations under the law.
What is next?
Although the climate law is already a reality in Europe, its publication is still pending. This last step will activate all the legal rights and obligations established therein and give the EU citizens the chance to access them.
However, for now, it can be said that the initial moral obligation to combat climate change has now become legal. Finally, in the EU, our planet has a ‘contract’ in which its protection and safeguard is ensured.