The von der Leyen Commission presented the European Green Deal, Europe’s roadmap to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, and to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, only 10 days into its mandate. Since then, the EU has accelerated action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, invest in green technologies and protect the natural environment.
This is despite the pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine. Indeed we have seized this generational opportunity and doubled down on the green transition, as we are doing again with REPowerEU. After all, not only does the health of people living in the EU depend on the health of our planet, but the EU’s energy security also depends on the massive shift towards renewable energy.
The European Green Deal
The European Green Deal is the most comprehensive transformation plan in the world and thanks to the Climate Law, the European Union cast its 2050 ambition into binding EU law. With the fit for 55 package, presented by the Commission in summer 2021, we have outlined the concrete steps to achieve our ambition and with NextGenerationEU we have the investment. Now is the time to accelerate implementation, through the following instruments as shown in the visual and text below:
Fit for 55 package, including emissions trading, regulations and targets | Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism | Uptake of alternative fuels and infrastructure in transport | EU taxonomy for sustainable activities | Renovation wave | Forest strategy | Farm-to-fork strategy | Zero-pollution | Sustainable and smart mobility strategy | Circular economy package | Biodiversity strategy
In March 2022, the Commission presented a package of proposals that builds on existing eco-design requirements, to make sustainable products the norm on the EU market. New rules make products more durable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, recyclable, and energy and resource efficient. The Commission also presented plans to make textiles more sustainable, along with new rules to ensure consumers are better informed about the environmental sustainability of products and better protected against greenwashing.
In March 2021 the Commission published an action plan for the development of the organic sector. This will support EU farmers in reaching the target of bringing 25% of agricultural land under organic farming as well as in significantly increasing organic aquaculture by 2030. The action plan puts forward concrete actions to boost both consumption and production of organic products, combined with further increasing the sustainability of the sector.
In June 2022, the Commission presented two new laws to bring nature back across the EU. The proposed nature restoration law is a key step in preventing the worst impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss by focusing on restoring EU wetlands, rivers, forests, grasslands, marine ecosystems and urban environments, and the species they host.
Mykola Kharytonov, who heads the Dnipro Centre for Organic Agriculture and Environmental Protection, is continuing his research into fertilisers from Catalonia in Spain, because he wants to help rebuild Ukraine.
In parallel, newly proposed rules on chemical pesticides will reduce pesticide use, reduce the environmental footprint of the EU’s food system, protect the health and well-being of citizens and agricultural workers and help mitigate economic losses caused by declining soil health and pesticide-induced pollinator loss.
New European Bauhaus
The need for bottom-up, co-creative solutions to climate change is why President von der Leyen launched the New European Bauhaus in 2020. This is a movement to make the green transition a sustainable and inclusive experience for citizens in their everyday lives. It shows that the European Green Deal is about more than finding inspiring effective solutions to climate change; it is about improving people’s lives in the way we design and build our homes, towns and cities.
To provide a public space for the growing community, the Commission launched the New European Bauhaus Lab in spring 2022 and the Festival of the New European Bauhaus in the summer. The lab supports the community in testing the tools, solutions and policy measures that will facilitate the transformation on the ground.
*Reconnecting with nature | Regaining a sense of belonging | Prioritising the places and people that need it the most | Shaping a circular industrial ecosystem and supporting life-cycle thinking
Leading the way on the global stage
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021, the European Union pushed for significant progress on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that the global ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C remains within reach. As a highly innovative and industrialised region, the EU’s leadership is inspiring others around it to follow.
In June 2022, the Commission anchored sustainability criteria firmly into its bilateral trade deals. Following a review of the sustainable-development aspects of our trade agreements, the EU will work more closely with its trade partners to enforce and implement core sustainability criteria, notably the Paris Agreement and labour conventions of the International Labor Organization. The EU-New Zealand Trade Agreement, concluded on 1 July 2022, is early proof of this new ambition. The agreement includes state of the art provisions on trade and sustainability, including sanctions linked to respecting the Paris Agreement.
Also in June, at the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference, the EU helped secure a landmark agreement to tackle harmful fishing subsidies worldwide. The agreement will ban subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and overfished stocks. To enforce this, we unveiled our new International Ocean Governance agenda.
Maria Teresa Ferres, stemming from five generations of Catalan fisherman, founded the cooperative “Sea of Women”, which promotes ethical engagement with the sea and the visibility of the role of women in the fisheries sector.