Irish Times view on the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ climate change proposals

Seismic shift required from EU member states to move from rhetoric to action

With transport and heavy industry responsible for most EU emissions, it is no surprise that carmakers, airlines and shipping are targeted. File photograph: Getty

With transport and heavy industry responsible for most EU emissions, it is no surprise that carmakers, airlines and shipping are targeted. File photograph: Getty

 

The European Commission’s so-called “Fit for 55” legislative programme embraces an overhaul of climate and energy policy and does not lack ambition. It details changes required under the European green deal through which the European Union can meet legal commitments to cut carbon by 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels; a key landmark to enable “climate neutrality” by 2050.

The commission also announced reforms of its emissions trading scheme relating to the way carbon is traded with caps on emissions. It is an essential mechanism, given the scale of the climate crisis, but has been hampered by exemptions.

With transport and heavy industry responsible for most EU emissions, it is no surprise that carmakers, airlines and shipping are targeted, and are already complaining the programme is anti-competitive and will stifle innovation. Agreement on the measures will take years to finalise but these sectors have to face up to the reality underlined by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that “our current fossil fuel economy has reached its limits”.

Reforms will force airlines to pay more for their emissions – a cost likely to be passed on to consumers. They will also feel financial pain if they continue to use fossil fuels though the commission insists renewable energy will become the cheaper option and a €72 billion “social climate fund” will make the transition fair. If a just transition process is not rolled out in tandem with decarbonisation, it will derail Europe’s attempt to be a global leader on climate action. This is where political buy-in will need to be the great enabler of collective action.

A new requirement that land use be “climate neutral” by 2035 will be most challenging for Ireland because of the current structure of Irish agriculture.

The Government has more than matched EU ambition with the 51 per cent cut in emission by 2030 (compared to 2018) enshrined in the Climate Bill. Such progress is essential but is dependent on a seismic shift from rhetoric to action.

News Digests

Stay on top of the latest newsSIGN UP HERE
The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.