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      This summer’s recent climatic episodes (fires across the Mediterranean, floods in Western Europe, Japan and South Africa, hurricanes across North America and the Caribbean) and the IPCC report oblige us to act quickly with regards to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union, for one, has not sat idle by during this time, and is still working diligently on its climate change framework to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. In July, the European Commission presented its ‘holistic’ policy package called ‘Fit for 55’ – a political toolkit to reduce carbon emissions to 55% of historic rates. The single largest project ever embarked on by the Commission.

      Through various initiatives, the commission has proposed a roadmap to the decarbonisation of all economic sectors: energy, industry, transport, residential and commercial buildings, and agriculture. Centre stage in the package and to the EU’s climate ambitions is energy. The large-scale deployment of renewable energy envisioned by the Commission, encapsulates the integration of gas and electricity systems, energy storage and distribution, new technological solutions to network stability, and an increased level of interconnectedness. A complex ballet in which every aspect is crucial in reaching net zero by 2050. The biggest decisive factor? Political will.

      The future of a carbon neutral power industry depends on developing a system with that future in mind, and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is crucial in keeping fossil fuels at bay. ‘Renewables-based-electrification’ of our infrastructure as one of the guiding principles of the RED, ought not only be of a scale never before seen; it will need cross-sectoral cooperation of similar scale. “Fit for 55» also proposes the revision of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is the cornerstone of legislation to incentivize the decarbonization of industry in moving towards cleaner production and stronger innovation.

      The decarbonisation of the European gas market is another priority. Hydrogen might be the key in this endeavor: heavy industry, heavy transport, part of energy – all of which so-called ‘hard-to-abate sectors’ will see measures to roll out initiatives for the promotion of clean hydrogen.

      The industrial sector, more than any other, needs a comprehensive European green industrial policy that not only puts a price on carbon pollution but offers policy support along the entire value chain of energy-intensive industries

      We must also take into account the need for a just and equitable transition in the transformation of energy supply. This means looking for innovations that are accessible and cheap to deploy or scale. The Commission wants to take important steps to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency, but this requires even more closely linked environmental and financial legislation to have a real impact; even if solutions may be cheap in the long-run, some initial investment will have to be made. That is why it has chosen to introduce key concepts of green finance into EU legislation; The development of sustainable finance will play a large role in tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity.

      With the proposals in the Fit for 55-package, the pricing of carbon and a carbon footprint reflects the truly international nature of climate change. The introduction of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) aims to put a halt to the counterproductive effects of EU CO2 emission standards in international competition. Although the Commission is adamant that this ‘WTO compatible’ mechanism is merely a climate measure and not a tax, it could finally move funds towards necessary infrastructure rather than covering the costs of polluters and an antiquated economic model.

      The arrival of CBAM is reflective of the truly global aspect of climate change. More than ever, it has become clear that the EU cannot act alone. COP 26 in Glasgow is therefore an excellent opportunity for nations to confirm their existing commitments and commit to even more ambitious targets. Indeed, critics in the scientific and environmental agencies of the world will deem the Green Deal as insufficient without more ambitious targets— ultimately marking a potential failure in the European vision for society. It is the responsibility of each EU citizen to take up this challenge and open their door to the fight against climate change. With this in mind, Europe must lead the way in the global race to net zero.

      This brings us to the last aspect of the planned transition: the Commission has made it more than clear that the tolls on the road to a climate neutral continent should be paid in an equitable manner. Vice President Timmermans has stated on multiple occasions that ‘there will be an inclusive transition, or none at all’. The new EU policies must become a driver for innovation, employment, and the decarbonisation of industry rather than the deindustrialization of the EU. In other words: Fit for 55 should be a growth strategy. In order to expect EU citizens to support the transition, the EU must be able to realise opportunities for both citizens and the private sector. Only with all actors on stage, can the EU bring this immense yet intricate play to a successful close.


      Laurent ULMANN

      • On the way to net zero: the make or break decade
        Frans Timmermanns, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal
      • How France Puts Climate First
        Barbara Pompili, French Minister for the Ecological Transition
      • Making the Most of Slovenia’s EU Council Presidency to Accelerate the Green Transition
        Andrej Vizjak, Minister of Environment and spatial Planning, Slovenia
      • Driving Europe’s energy transition via policy
        Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy
      • The Outlook for the Global Clean Energy Transition
        Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency
      • Meeting the sustainable energy need of a growing global population
        Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies
      • Accelerating the Energy Transition to Achieve Climate Neutrality
        Cristian Busoi, Chair of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament
      • Insurers: A force for sustainable change
        Philippe Donnet, Group CEO Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.
      • Access to finance facilitating support for the Green Deal
        Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President, European Investment Bank
      • From Carbon Markets to Green Industrial Policy
        Bas Eickhout, MEP (Greens, Netherlands), Member of the ENVI Committee
      • A reality check on climate change
        Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group
      • Paving the way towards an affordable and resilient European decarbonization
        Claire Waysand, Executive Vice President,General Secretary of Engie
      • The path to 2050 will be defined by how we get to 2030 – Time to move from the age of pladges to the era or results
        Jytte Guteland, MEP (S&D Group, Sweden) Coordinator in ENVI Committee and Rapporteur for the European Climate Law
      • Renewable energy is here…and we are going to need it
        Nils Torvalds, MEP (Renew Europe – Finland), Member of the ENVI Committee
      • Mission Zero for the healthy living spaces: 3 actions to get buildings on track with climate science
        Maximilian Viessmann, Co-CEO Viessmann Group and CEO Viessmann Climate Solutions
      • Yes the revision of the Energy taxation Directive
        Henrike Hahn, MEP (Greens – Germany), Member of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament
      • The EU is on the pathway to a real change of paradigm in its energy & Climate policy
        Christophe Grudler, Member of the ITRE Committee
      • Hydrogen Fusion: the way to a new energy future
        Bernard Bigot, Director General ITER Organization
      • Unleashing the power of clean hydrogen for a carbon-neutral future
        Fabienne Lecorvaisier, Executive Vice President – Air Liquide
      • Building climate-neutral economy with hydrogen must start today
        Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO, Hydrogen Europe
      • Reducing Methane Emmissions – A quick win on tackling climate crisis
        Maria Spyraki, MEP (EPP Group – Greece), Rapporteur of the EU Strategy to Reduce methane emissions
      • Gas is central to the energy transition and decarbonising it will be a cross sector effort
        James Watson, Secretary General, Eurogas
      • Two years on the Green Deal, hydrogen is still “the missing piece of the puzzle”
        sébastien Douguet, Director – Deloitte Economic Advisory
      • How sustainable Finance Will Support the Climate transition
        Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP (EPP Group – Finland), Member of the ECON Committee, European Parliament
      • Time Is Not on Our side – Climate Action is Urgently Needed
        Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environmental Bureau (EBB)
      • A lot of work to do until we are “Fit for 55”
        Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP (EPP Group-Portuguese) Member of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament
      • Developing Clean Mobility for a Climate-Neutral Europe
        Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission
      • Carbon2ProductAustria (C2PAT)
        Thomas Gangl, CEO of Borealis
      • Promoting an Ambitious Climate Action While Protecting Jobs in a Post-Pandemic Europe
        Peter Liese, MEP (EPP Group -Germany), Member of the ENVI Committee, European Parliament
      • Why Fit for 55 needs to drive innovative transformation
        Lars Røsæg, EVP, Corporate Development & Deputy CEO, Yara
      • Three steps to tackle the climate emergency
        Michael Bloss, MEP (Greens, Germany), Member of the ITTRE Committee, European Parliament
      • Fit for 55 recognizes that sustainable biomass is key to fighting climate change, but the details must be right for today and tomorrow
        Thomas Meth, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of ENVIVA
      • Ensuring the Renewable Energy Directive becomes Fit for 55
        Morten Petersen, MEP (Renew Europe – Denmark), Member of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament.
      • Circular economy: a concrete solution to climate and biodiversity challenges
        Jean Hornain, CEO of CITEO
      • Climate Crisis Shows Need for Bolder national Actions Under EU Green Deal
        Linda McAvan, The European Climate Foundation’s executive director for European relations and a former British member of the European Parliament
      • Old Sector – New Role The European fertilizer industry is standing at the dawn of becomming an essential player in the climate effort
        Jacob Hansen, Director General of Fertilizers Europe
      • The green transition only hurts those who do not want to take it seriously
        Pernille Weiss, MEP (EPP Group-Denmark), Member of the ENVI & ITRE Committee
      • How to make the necessary digital transition a sustainable transition
        Patrick Chaize, French Senator of Ain, President of Avicca
      • Electrifying Europe with wind energy – towards net-zero by 2050
        Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO
      • Electricity leads the race to net zero
        Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of Eurelectric
      • Electrification and sustainable fuels: Partners towards carbon neutrality
        Pieter Vingerhoets & Ronnie Belmans , EnergyVille/VITO
      • Good Games and Climate Change: Building a better world through video games
        Raphael Benross, Senior Consultant, Games for Good Group