Is the Green deal the ultimate weapon against climate change?
The EU Green Deal is an initiative introduced by the European Commission in early 2020 that would introduce Europe with a complete action plan in the fight against climate change. This action plan is trying to provide a holistic approach to finding solutions to fight climate change by outlining investments needed, create financing tools, and tries to suggest solutions to fight climate change in a just and inclusive way.
Fighting climate change is a war on multiple fronts and the EU has identified 9 fronts or policy areas that will help this transition. These 9 policy areas are:
Climate action (setting climate targets across the EU for making the EU climate neutral by 2050)
Clean energy (supplying clean, affordable, and secure energy)
Sustainable industry (mobilizing industry for a clean and circular economy)
Building and renovating (the need for a cleaner construction sector)
Sustainable mobility (accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility)
Biodiversity (preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity)
From Farm to Fork (designing a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system)
Sustainable agriculture (sustainability in EU agriculture and rural areas thanks to the common agricultural policy (CAP))
Eliminating pollution (a zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment)
These policy areas include all sectors of the economy contributing to climate change from agriculture to energy and buildings. To facilitate the Green Deal, the EU has mobilized at least €1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next decade. This trillion Euro that will be mobilized by the EU will be money coming from different sources such as the EU budget, the InvestEU program that will bring private and public investments through the European Investment Bank (EIB) to companies, the Just transition mechanism, and some funding coming from the EU Emission Trading System (ETS).
This action plan will be initiated by a set of EU directives, legislation, and proposals that have started getting implemented from early 2020 until mid-2021. Some examples of the proposals include the increase of the EU 2030 climate target to at least 50%, a Circular Economy Action Plan, a Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, and many more that will enforce policies specifically for the policy areas mentioned above.
Current and future goals of the Green Deal
The current European climate goals include a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. With the Green deal the new 2030 target changes to reduce 50% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 instead of 40%. This might not seem like a big change, but the higher you increase the percentage the harder and more expensive it gets to decrease your emissions.
Below you can see the greenhouse gas emissions in Europe through the years from 1990. As you can see the reason that the above-mentioned targets have a reference point at the 1990 levels is because that's were emissions peaked in Europe and it was a good point for countries to start.
The Effect on Cyprus
The small island of Cyprus follows a completely different story than the EU. Due to our rapid GDP growth from the 1980s to the late 2000s emissions peaked in Cyprus in the mid-2000s as you can see in the graph below.
This led Cyprus from setting the reference point at 2005 levels instead of 1990s levels. The current emission reduction goal set by Cyprus was the reduction of 5% until 2020 and 24% until 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The latter is a significant challenge for Cyprus and it will be an even bigger challenge with the introduction and new target that will be set by the Green Deal. The fact that Cyprus is an isolated system and relies solely on importing fuels makes this target very challenging. Recent movements have been seen in projects that will massively reduce emissions for our country by importing Natural Gas, interconnecting the grid of Cyprus to those of Greece, Israel, and Egypt, and the liberalization of the electricity market with investments in renewables. All these projects will allow the country to surpass its goals. Despite the delays from the above-mentioned projects, analysts are confident that our country with its recently released National Climate and Energy plan (NCEP) will surpass its 2030 goals.
By Sotiris Kyprianou
Sotiris is an energy analyst that dedicated his career to the energy sector with degrees in engineering and management in the sector with specialization in renewable energies, energy storage, and energy modeling.