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Fit for 55: EU rolls out largest ever legislative package in pursuit of climate goal

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  • Published
    19th Jul, 2021
  • Context

    The European Commission recently adopted the Fit for 55 package, which aims to revise the EU’s current 2030 climate and energy rules. 

  • Background

     Last year, the world saw a record $50 billion worth of damages from extreme weather disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis.

    • These extreme climate disasters were also the primary driver for pushing nearly 16 million people into crisis levels of food insecurity.
    • This year, the climate crisis, coupled with Covid-19 and conflict, drove 20 million more people into extreme hunger, reaching a total of 155 million people in 55 countries.

    In December 2020, the European Union submitted a revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. This latest Commission’s proposal is an opportunity to help meet climate and biodiversity objective.

  • Analysis

    What exactly is in the plan?

    • The European Commission’s plan, “Fit for 55,” calls for its 27 member states to cut their output of greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
    • It will align EU policy with the ambitious political mandates of the Green Deal and EU Climate Law. 
    • The European Union’s plan is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by the end of the decade.
  • How would it work?

    The plan will enable the necessary acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the next decade.

    • They combine:
      • application of emissions trading to new sectors and a tightening of the existing EU Emissions Trading System
      • increased use of renewable energy; greater energy efficiency
      • a faster roll-out of low emission transport modes and the infrastructure and fuels to support them
      • an alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives
      • measures to prevent carbon leakage
      • tools to preserve and grow our natural carbon sinks
  • What is required to achieve the plan?

    Oxfam estimates that cuts of more than 65% are needed for Europe to contribute its fair share of the global reductions needed to get on track to limit global heating to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. 

  • How would this transition impact the different sectors?

    Positive Side

    • Impact on overall economy: The plan will touch almost every industry in the trade bloc, with profound consequences for jobs and the bloc’s economy.
    • Integration of new technologies: Furthermore, the climate package could put Europe at the forefront of new technologies like electric car batteries, offshore wind generation or aircraft engines that run on hydrogen.

    Negative Side

    • Increase in cost: The transition can impact the companies and consumers by raising the cost of a wide variety of goods and services (video monitors imported from China, for example, or a vacation flight to a Greek island or even a full tank of gasoline).
    • Compulsory adoption: Companies that make products destined for obsolescence, like parts for internal combustion engines, must adapt or go out of business.
  • What are India’s plans to achieve its emission’s targets?

     India is the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter after China and the United States

    • As part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted under the Paris Agreement, India has taken three quantitative climate change goals.
      • First: reduction in the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
    • India aims to achieve its target of reducing 35 per cent emissions intensity of its GDP well before the year 2030.
      • Emission intensity is the volume of emissions per unit of GDP.
    • India has already achieved its voluntary target of reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 21 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020.
    • Second: achieving about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.
    • Third: creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

    Recent initiatives to reduce emissions

    • In July 2020, India railways announced plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. This follows a target to achieve complete electrification of its network by 2023.
    • Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms
    • UJALA scheme
    • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
    • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
    • International Solar Alliance
  • How EU’s plan is ahead of other countries?

    United States: The European Union’s target is more aggressive than that of the United States, which committed to reduce emissions by 40% to 43% over the same period.

    • Britain: Also, the plan is behind Britain, which pledged a 68% reduction.
    • China: China (the world’s largest emitter, has only said it aims for emissions to peak by 2030.
  • Where does the proposal lack?

    The proposal includes no new elements to address the use of unsustainable crop-based biofuels in transport, leaving open the possibility of using food for fuel.

    • The proposal also fails to account for emissions from indirect land-use change arising from deforestation and peatland degradation induced by the increased demand for bioenergy.
    • Achieving these emission reductions of the proposal in the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.

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