European Commission Announces Proposed Climate Law

On March 4, 2020, the European Commission today took another step in delivering the European Green Deal, presented on 11 December 2019, by publishing the proposed European Climate Law, which, if adopted, will enshrine the EU's commitment to be climate neutral by 2050. The Commission supports a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition, EU Institutions and Member States will collectively be bound at both EU and national levels to meet the target.

President Ursula von der Leyen said:

“We are acting today to make the EU the world's first climate neutral continent by 2050. The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment, and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future. It is the heart of the European Green Deal. It offers predictability and transparency for European industry and investors. And it gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair.”

Meeting the 2050 targets. The Climate Law addresses how the 2050 targets will be met:

  1. The Commission will propose a new 2030 EU target for greenhouse gas emission reductions;

  2. By June 2021, the Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to achieve the additional emission reductions for 2030;

  3. The Commission proposes the setting of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, to measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizen;

  4. By September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory;

  5. The Commission will be empowered to issue recommendations to Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective, and Member States will be obliged to take due account of these recommendations or to explain their reasoning if they fail to do so. The Commission can also review the adequacy of the trajectory and the Union wide measures; and

  6. Member States will also be required to develop and implement adaptation strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

Keeping track of progress. Progress in meeting the 2050 targets will be reviewed every five years, in conjunction with the Paris Agreement global stocktake, as well as: (i) evaluate and adjust actions for Member States' National Energy and Climate Plans, (ii) regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and (iii) the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts.

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The Commission also published the inception impact assessments on the future Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and the review of the Energy Taxation Directive. The Commission is now seeking feedback on both inception impact assessments until April 1, 2020. The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism seeks to put a carbon price on imports from outside the EU to prevent carbon leakage. The goal of the Energy Taxation Directive is to align taxation of energy products and electricity with EU energy and climate policies.

European Climate Pact. The Commission also launched public consultations on a new European Climate Pact, to provide citizens and stakeholders with an opportunity to assist in, among others, designing new climate actions and showcasing solutions.

The public consultation will be open for 12 weeks, with inputs used to shape the Climate Pact. This will be launched before the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November 2020 (COP26).

Please do not hesitate to contact Lisa DeMarco at to discuss the contents of this bulletin.

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