The European Commission has responded to calls for climate and environmental action by publishing plans for a European Green Deal including the promise of“deeply transformative policies” in its first major communication just 10 days after taking office.
Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau(EEB) – Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ groups – said:
“This is a significant moment both for the environment and for the EU as Ursula von der Leyen has rightly chosen to make the European Green Deal her Commission’s defining policy. While the Green Deal clearly falls short of adequately addressing the challenges posed by the existential crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and toxic pollution, it does promise‘deeply transformative policies’ in the future and is an important first step by the new Commission, even if the hard work of shaping and delivering those policies is still to come.”
The Green Deal proposal follows an EU election in May where climate and environment were key issues. Young people have led demands for governments to respond to scientific warnings about climate breakdown and biodiversity loss with serious action to cut emissions and reduce inequality.
Patrick ten Brink, the EEB’s EU Policy Director said:
“The European Green Deal includes important commitments to a toxic-free environment, to end harmful subsidies and loopholes, and to design the genuinely transformative policies we will need to deliver for future generations. The next 12 months will be crucial as new laws, policies and budgets are developed to deliver the Green Deal.”
Patrizia Heidegger, the EEB’s Global Policy Director said:
“What we need is a strategy to break free from ever-increasing consumption and economic expansion and to establish a society in which we live well within the planet’s limits, so it’s disappointing to see the Green Deal referred to as a‘growth strategy’ on its opening page. There is no empirical evidence to support the idea that decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures is possible on anywhere near the scale needed to deal with environmental breakdown.”
The EEA’s recent State of the European Environment report stated that Europe faces environmental challenges of unprecedented scale and urgency which the EU will fail to tackle if it continues to promote economic growth while trying to‘manage’ the environmental and social impacts.
“Today’s Green Deal is far from a perfect document but for the most part provides a good starting point for further work.As regards its ultimate success, much will depend on the content of the more specific strategies that are foreseen to come out in the coming months.”