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Social 28 May 2021

What is the European Green Deal? Keys to helping the planet

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The need to create a livable global environment that respects and preserves biodiversity is driving initiatives such as the European Green Deal, with an integrative vocation under the umbrella of sustainable and inclusive development. The aim of this agreement is to implement a set of measures to address climate and environmental challenges.

One trillion euros of budget for a sustainable economy, new job opportunities, a clean environment and a better quality of life, not only for EU countries and citizens, but for a new world order involving partners and allies. This, in broad terms, is what the Global Green Deal is all about. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, says: "Making nature healthy again is key to our physical and mental wellbeing and is an ally in the fight against climate change and disease outbreaks. It is at the heart of our growth strategy, the European Green Deal, and is part of a European recovery that gives more back to the planet than it takes away". The target? 2050.

Ambitious objectives

The European Green Deal, presented on December 11, 2019 by the European Commission, includes pollution control measures, social policies and actions against climate change, sustainability laws, gas emission reductions, energy efficiency, circular economy and the green economy. It also includes actions aimed at the strategic growth of the European Union based on the development of various environmental policies.

As stated in the Commission's communiqué, this pact also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU's natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts. But it goes further by stressing that this transition must be just and inclusive, and it must put people first.

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Of particular relevance, moreover, is its vocation for global action, not only in the EU, but also extending and requesting the participation of allies and partners to make this pact effective and lead the planet toward a truly sustainable future.

Here are the various elements that make up the European Green Deal:

*Increasing the EU's Climate ambition for 2030 and 2050.

*A zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment.

*Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy.

*Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity.

*Mobilizing industry for a clean and sustainable economy.

*Achieving a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system.

*Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way.

*Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility.

The seven keys to the Deal's action plan

  1. Clean energy. Decarbonizing the energy system is critical to reach climate objectives in 2030 and 2050. The production and use of energy across economic sectors account for more than 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. The focus is on energy efficiency, but any transition to clean energy must involve and benefit consumers, which means not forgetting and addressing the risk of energy poverty.
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  1. Toward a sustainable industry. Although EU's industry has started the transition to a clean climate economy, it still accounts for 20% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. According to its own report, it takes 25 years to transform an industrial sector and all the value chains, so action is urgently needed within five years if the 2050 target is to be met. The transition is an excellent opportunity to boost the creation of new jobs. However, progress is too slow to be seen.
  1. Building and renovating. Doubling the renovation rate of the building stock to meet climate and energy efficiency targets. It currently varies between 0.4% and 1.3%. However, the twin challenge of energy efficiency and affordability must also be addressed as 50 million consumers struggle to keep their homes adequately warm. Renovating public and private buildings is therefore necessary.
  1. Sustainable mobility. In terms of sustainable transport, the EU puts people first, so its objective will be to provide them with healthy, accessible and clean alternatives to the way they have been traveling up to now. Emissions from road, rail, aviation, and waterborne transport must be reduced by 90%.
  1. Biodiversity. Ecosystems provide essential services such as food, fresh water and clean air, and shelter. They mitigate natural disasters, pests and diseases and help regulate the climate. However, the EU recognizes that it is not meeting some of its most important environmental objectives for 2020. It is key to strengthen and improve the EU's forest area and to focus efforts on the so-called 'blue economy' and recognize the essential role of oceans in the process of adapting to climate change.
  1. Healthy and fair food system

Feeding a growing world population is a dual challenge: zero poverty without destroying the planet's resources. This is because irrational food production continues to damage biodiversity, pollute air, water and soil, and encourage a culture of waste. The EU's "Farm to Fork" strategy embraces all the benefits of the circular economy.

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  1. Planet 10/zero pollution. The aim is to systematically review all EU and Member State policies and regulations to achieve a toxic-free environment, to restore and preserve biodiversity in lakes, rivers, wetlands and estuaries, and to restore the natural functions of ground and surface water. A plan to prevent pollution from air, water, soil, and all consumer products.

Unity is strength

To conclude, Frans Timmermans, the EU's Executive Vice President, gave a speech in Brussels thanking John Kerry, the Biden administration's special climate envoy, for bringing the US back to the joint mission: "We are going to be working hand in hand to make a success of Glasgow. It's going to be quite an effort to get there, it will be quite an effort to convince other major players in the world to do the right thing. But I am absolutely convinced that by the United States and Europe working together, we can move mountains and make sure we hand over a climate our children and grandchildren can live in. A world that is livable, a world that learns to live within planetary boundaries."

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