Dec 12, 2019

Europe's "Green Deal" shows the hard road to U.S. carbon emissions cuts

Ursula von der Leyen announces the European Green Deal on Dec. 11. Photo: Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty Images

Ursula von der Leyen, the new European Commission president, yesterday unveiled plans for an ambitious "European Green Deal" meant to make the EU a net-zero emitter by 2050.

Why it matters: The EU is the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitting region after China and the U.S.

The big picture: The sweeping plan envisions crafting a new climate law within the next 100 days.

  • And it broadly proposed the outlines of ideas in areas like fuel tax policies, trade via "border carbon adjustments," a "just transition" for fossil-fuel dependent regions, and greatly expanded investment.

The intrigue: One of the documents released yesterday is a "roadmap" of "key actions" around policy development envisioned in the coming year — and it features dozens of them.

  • It covers everything from deepening the targeted 2030 emissions cuts to a June 2021 tax policy proposal to the creation of new strategies.
  • It envisions crafting new strategies for offshore wind, climate-friendly steel production, various mobility plans, the "just transition" fund, stronger biodiversity and forest efforts, a "farm to fork" policy, and on and on.

The state of play: This document is relevant to the U.S. and the 2020 elections.

  • I haven't had time to digest everything the EC dumped yesterday, but even taking it for a quick spin underscores the incredible time and labor it will take to accomplish.
  • Similarly, transforming Democratic White House candidates' plans into actual policymaking is a huge lift.
  • Put another way, even the somewhat detailed plans from Elizabeth Warren are, in essence, scribbles on a napkin that can obscure the painstaking work ahead if the U.S. ever hopes to implement an aggressive climate policy.

My thought bubble: I know this is kind of obvious, but it's worth mentioning because lots of attention is paid to candidates' sweeping targets (like net-zero by 2050) and aggregate spending levels (like Bernie Sanders' $16 trillion proposal).

  • But it's worth remembering that even successfully implementing a small fraction of these plans would be a long slog.

Go deeper:

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Europe's big climate deal exempts coal-reliant Poland

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Leaders of the EU endorsed a plan Friday to make the bloc a net-zero carbon emitter by mid-century, according to a slew of reports from their meeting in Brussels.

Yes, but: Coal-reliant Poland, which balked at the target, is currently exempted from the agreement.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Mike Bloomberg releases his first domestic climate plan

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democratic White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg would aim to cut economy-wide U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and implement policies that would make 80% of power generation zero-carbon by 2028.

Why it matters: Those are two key targets in broadly worded plans unveiled Friday that mark the first detailed domestic climate proposals from the billionaire's campaign, and follow his years of advocacy on the topic.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

House Democrats' climate bill aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We can already draw some conclusions from yesterday's rollout of the "framework" for big climate legislation House Democrats are crafting through the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Driving the news: The planned bill aims to achieve net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.