The European Union is a collaborative effort of 27 sovereign nations on the continent organized to marshal the resources and collective capabilities of these member states to address economic, military, trade, travel, and other important issues. The EU grew out of early post-WWII efforts to create a “common market” on the continent and to encourage closer peacetime relations among the disparate nations and cultures of western Europe.
The initial focus on economic issues has considerably broadened in recent years and ESG issues including climate change, GHG emissions, and carbon credits are very much in focus for the EU and its members in 2021.
The European Commission is the EU’s executive arm that addresses long-term strategies, sets the priorities agenda, and implements rules, policy changes, directives, and other measures. They set six important priorities for the period 2019-2024:
- the European Green Deal, a set of climate action initiatives;
- a Europe “fit” for the digital age;
- an economy that works for people;
- a stronger Europe in the world;
- protecting the European way of life; and
- a new push for European democracy.
The challenges of climate change run throughout the six priorities but are addressed in the greatest detail in the European Green Deal.
The European Green Deal is an ambitious package of measures designed to address climate change and environmental degradation, which the European Commission has identified as existential threats to Europe and the world. Consider these ambitious goals:
- No net emissions of GHG by 2050, making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent.
- Economic growth to be decoupled from resource use.
- No person/place left behind.
- 1.8 trillion Euros to be invested in the NextGeneration EU Recovery Plan.
In July, the European Commission adopted proposals to reduce net GHG emissions by 55% or more by 2030, compared to 1990s levels. This is the “Fit for 55” package that includes policies on climate, energy, transport, and taxation that could affect many business enterprises as well as sovereign governments within Europe and around the globe.
It would be wise for all of us to consider the impact of these initiatives beyond Europe – in just one example, in 2023 all importers to the EU will have to submit declarations annually on the carbon emissions attributable to their imported goods, and after 2026 importers will need to surrender certificates for those emissions. There are many more details to consider, and our Top Stories for you this week (as well as many of our content silos in the Highlights) provide important details about what is happening as the European Green Deal policy concepts move forward.
If you have questions, the G&A team is available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re closely following ESG/sustainability topics and issues in Europe and around the world and advising our clients on developments that could affect their organizations in the short- and long-term.
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.
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