While change is never easy, the European Green Deal is kicking off at an especially difficult time, writes Marco Siddi, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and author of a new paper examining the deal’s chances of success.
This latest FIIA Working Paper, entitled “The European Green Deal: Assessing its current state and future implementation” is part of FIIA’s Climate Change Politics project.
Against the backdrop of Covid-19, geopolitical tensions and the rise of climate deniers, implementing a plan that is focussed on achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050 may not exactly be at the forefront of Europeans’ attention.
The European Green Deal, a roadmap of key policies to reach the European climate neutrality goal, was introduced by the European Commission in December 2019. Its performance depends on four main factors: adequate policy prioritization, financial endowment, legal competence of EU institutions and international cooperation, Marco Siddi says.
“Europe must ensure that the Green Deal is and remains a policy priority despite the Covid-19 emergency and the ensuing economic crisis.”
From a financial standpoint, this means that the EU needs to make sure that public funding shifts from hydrocarbons to renewables and energy efficiency in post-pandemic economic programmes.
“Reliance on private investments should be scrutinised carefully, as it involves the risk of making the Green Deal subject to corporate interests that are heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry,” says Siddi. Moreover, the legal competence of EU institutions to coordinate and enforce the implementation of the Green Deal must be ensured.
“A strong legal mandate that simultaneously preserves democratic scrutiny will encourage the Commission to pursue bolder targets,” says Siddi.
Globally, the EU has long pursued a leading role in policies to tackle climate change. It adopted the first climate change strategy as early as 1992. To reach its climate goals for 2050, says the paper, the EU needs to boost its international cooperation in areas such as border carbon adjustment, technology transfers and green industry.
“Even while the US shies away from its responsibilities as the world’s second largest emitter, and China takes an ambiguous stance on phasing out coal, the EU can continue to pursue the energy transition in cooperation with other major global players and polluters, such as Russia,” says Siddi.