The European Union announced its latest ‘Fit for 55’ decarbonisation proposals on Wednesday this week – pitched with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
The bloc is awaiting approval from its member countries and the EU parliament, with a dozen draft proposals in the pipeline for consideration. If passed, the measures could be instrumental in achieving the EU’s 2030 goal of reducing emissions by 55% from 1990 levels, though a lengthy deliberation process is anticipated.
Among the measures proposed one seeks to tax jet fuel, with lower-carbon aviation fuels given a ten year tax hiatus, while another would almost entirely ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars within 20 years. Integrating sustainable aviation fuel and biofuel-based alternatives will instead become the priority for the transport sector.
“By acting now we can do things another way … and choose a better, healthier and more prosperous way for the future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the announcement on Wednesday.
“It is our generational task… [to ensure] the wellbeing of not only our generation, but of our children and grandchildren. Europe is ready to lead the way.”
Reactions to the announcement have been mixed, with aviation and steel industry members denouncing the move as potentially destabilizing investment opportunities. Yet for some environmental groups, the measures don’t go far enough. In a statement, Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said:
“Celebrating these policies is like a high-jumper claiming a medal for running under the bar. This whole package is based on a target that is too low, doesn’t stand up to science, and won’t stop the destruction of our planet’s life-support systems.”
Other proposals include implementing a ‘carbon border tariff’ requiring non-EU manufacturers to pay greater taxes on imported materials such as steel and concrete, and a stricter requirement for countries to update buildings deemed energy inefficient.
The EU has consistently led the charge in enacting significant environmental policies, and in 2019 it was announced the bloc had cut emissions by 24% from 1990 levels.