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Potential EU climate law could delay further action, says Greenpeace

3 March 2020, at 10:01am

The political response to the climate emergency is the defining issue of our time. But progress has been painfully slow. The European Union has staked its credibility on showing the world that it can decarbonise as extensively as science demands, while ensuring no-one is left behind. The European Commission claims its new climate law - the centrepiece of the European Green Deal - will be at the heart of this effort. But questions remain about the law’s ability to commit governments to urgent action.

Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang: “The problem with the EU’s response to the climate emergency is that what it calls politically unprecedented is in fact woefully insufficient when you look at the science and the scale of the challenge. Decades of dithering, delays and half-baked measures have led us to a point where the very survival of life on Earth is at risk. But instead of taking responsibility, governments and corporations are deflecting urgent action by latching on to distant targets that primarily commit future generations.”

Since her appointment, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has been adamant that responding to the climate and ecological emergency is the most pressing issue facing the EU. She promised a European Green Deal in the Commission’s first 100 days, with a new EU climate law at the heart of it.

When it was released in December 2019, the European Green Deal promised much, but left the Commission with a lot to prove. On 4 March, von der Leyen and Commission vice president Frans Timmermans will unveil the draft EU climate law amid much fanfare.

This briefing outlines expectations for the new law, within the context of the green deal’s ambition to respond to the escalating climate emergency.

The European Parliament and national governments are expected to battle it out this year to amend the Commission’s draft. The chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee, Pascal Canfin, is keen to rush through the final climate law before a UN climate conference in November. But central and eastern European governments, led by Poland, could try to drag out the process and are expected to resist binding short-term measures.

To read the full media briefing, click here.