European leaders have called for green investments in their coronavirus recovery plans, citing the need for clean air and a circular economy to rebuild resilience. On April 15, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed strong support for the European Green Deal, which aims for zero carbon emissions in the European Union (EU) bloc by 2050.
European Union leaders will push for a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at an upcoming summit December 12-13, according to a draft statement released December 2. Previous efforts to endorse climate neutrality have been blocked by Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, who rely heavily on coal (Reuters).
At a European Union (EU) summit on June 20, efforts led by France and Germany for the 28-member EU to agree to a 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target was blocked by three central European countries. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland refused to sign on to the agreement, which is projected to require the bloc to invest an additional 175 billion to 290 billion euros per year in clean energy technology. The summit was the last chance to agree to the target before global climate talks in September.
On April 5, the European Commission charged BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen with colluding to limit the introduction of clean emissions technology. The Commission alleges that the carmakers colluded between 2006 and 2014 to limit, delay, or avoid the introduction of selective catalytic reduction systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions from diesel passenger cars. The carmakers have 10 weeks to respond and could face fines of up to 10% of their global annual turnover.
On March 7, the European Court of Justice's General Court ruled that the European Food Safety Agency must disclose details of studies on the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of glyphosate. Concerns about the weedkiller's safety were highlighted in 2015 when an agency of the World Health Organization concluded that it probably causes cancer. The court found that it was in the public's interest to access the information not only for knowing what is or could be released into the environment, but also for understanding the impact of those emissions.
On December 13, a European Union (EU) court partly overturned the European Commission's 2016 regulatory amendment that raised the limits on nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans, in a complaint brought by city authorities from Paris, Brussels, and Madrid. The General Court determined that the part of the amendment that increased nitrogen oxide limits exceeded the Commission's authority and broke EU human rights and other laws. The court gave the Commission one year to revise the amendment to avoid legal uncertainty over decisions already made by consumers and automakers.
On November 28, the European Union's (EU's) executive branch proposed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The proposal is far more ambitious than the national targets set by many of the EU's 28 member nations and is likely to be met with resistance. To achieve net-zero emissions, any greenhouse gases that are emitted would need to be soaked up by forest growth or by new technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/95d0381308164e7b867dd0e0d869bf15.
On October 10, the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee approved a draft proposal to ban single-use plastic products from the EU market beginning in 2021. Products under the proposal include those made of oxo-degradable plastics, fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene, single-use cutlery, and drinking straws. The plan also introduces collection and recycling targets for fishing gear containing plastic, which represents 27% of waste found on Europe's beaches. The full European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposal at the end of the month.
On June 25, Europe's highest court declared that crops obtained by mutagenesis, or gene editing, should fall under laws restricting the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Court of Justice of the European Union took the view that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs within the meaning of the GMO Directive because mutagenesis involves techniques that alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally. The ruling goes against the opinion of the court's advocate general, who argued earlier this year that mutagenesis should be allowed.
On June 14, EU negotiators agreed to phase out the use of palm oil in transport fuels by 2030. The wording on the specifics of the phase-out are yet to be agreed upon, but EU negotiators agreed that the use of palm oil would be capped at 2019 levels until 2023 and reduced to zero by 2030. The agreement is part of the EU's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.