Europe - ENVIRONMENT

EU readies for radical overhaul of climate, energy policy

Environmental groups are lobbying the EU executive to remove forest biomass from the list of energy sources classified as renewable.
Environmental groups are lobbying the EU executive to remove forest biomass from the list of energy sources classified as renewable. AFP

The European Commission will table a package of energy and climate laws on Wednesday designed to facilitate the EU’s transition to a net zero economy.

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Among the 13 legislative proposals are plans to reform the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), a carbon market that is the cornerstone of Europe’s climate policy.

Representing some 40 percent of European emissions, the ETS cap and trade system covers power generation, steel plants, cement, chemicals and commercial aviation.

The system works by setting a cap of total emissions that decreases over time. Companies can then buy and trade emitting permits.

Other measures to be unveiled include a so-called "carbon tax" payable at the bloc's external borders, updates to energy laws and an expected decision to ban the sale of new petrol-driven cars from 2035.

Bio-energy feud

Amid controversy over the role of bioenergy, there are also plans for a roadmap for planting at least 3 billion trees by 2030.

Environmental groups are lobbying the EU executive to remove forest biomass from the list of energy sources classified as renewable.

“You can plant trees, but you cannot plant forests. Forests are not renewable,” Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said on Twitter.

The EU hopes its 'Fit for 55' policies will allow it to slash emissions by 55 percent this decade, and to become the world’s first carbon neutral continent by 2050.

The policies will completely overhaul the way Europeans insulate their homes, manage land and waste and produce materials such as steel and cement.

There is, however, disagreement among EU members over how the cost of the measures should be shared.

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