‘It will fundamentally change people's lives: from the supermarket to the workplace,’ that is what European Commissioner Frans Timmermans said in an interview about the plans for the realisation of the Green Deal he presented on 14 July 2021. The 'Fit for 55' package, which the European Commission presented that day, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050.
In addition, in the overarching communication about all legislative proposals, the committee emphasises that their plans will bring about a transformation that will change our entire economy and society. We will grow and eat food differently, live and work differently, and travel and relax differently.
That is exactly how the European Commission's plans were received: as a bold, ambitious and radical attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And as if to underline the need, very extreme rainfall in the week of the launch led to dramatic floods resulting in deaths and huge material damage in the Ardennes and the Eiffel.
‘We have been warning people about this type of catastrophe for 30 years already,' said Jean-Pascal Van Ypersele, former chairman of the UN climate panel. He concluded with the sombre message that even the most ambitious climate plan is not enough to match the urgency of the problem. And although he thinks that the proposals in the European Green Deal are going in the right direction, he is concerned that they are only proposals. He fears that it will take years to turn them into laws and that they will eventually emerge in a watered-down form.
It is only too true: in the years to come, the proposals will be the subject of fierce debate among the EU Member States and there is a good chance that the need to compromise will weaken them. But the negotiation period that follows will also be an opportunity to take a critical look at the plans and see where improvements are needed.