The European Union has unveiled some of the world’s most ambitious proposals to reduce carbon emissions and wean its 27 members off fossil fuels, including taxes on emissions-heavy imports into the union and non-renewable energy, such as oil, gas and coal.
The package of measures looks to fundamentally transform the world’s single largest trading bloc. It touches on almost every area of economic activity – from how citizens heat their homes and commute, to a total upheaval of manufacturing practices.
The EU last month enshrined in law its target to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, but on Wednesday unveiled the aggressive 10-step program, titled “Fit for 55,” which is a roadmap for how it will achieve its reduction.
At a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Europe had become the first continent with “a comprehensive architecture” to meet its climate ambitions.
“We have the goal, but now we present the roadmap to how we are going to get there,” she said.
“We know, for example, our current fossil fuel economy has reached its limits. And we know we have to move on to new model one that is powered by innovation, that has clean energy that is moving toward a circular economy.”
While the package is bold, climate activists have criticized the 55% target for not being strong enough to prevent global temperatures from rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say is necessary to stave off more severe impacts of climate change.
The European Union accounts for around 8% of the world’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Containing rising temperatures will need firm action from bigger economies, including the US and China, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters.