Confronted with climate disruption, environmental degradation and the acceleration in biodiversity loss, the European Commission aims to develop a greener Europe, while taking the current ecological, economic and social realities into account. The European Green Deal was presented to the European Parliament in late 2019. It symbolises the commitment of the Commission and its President, Ursula von der Leyen to prioritise climate and environmental issues while making sure no one is left behind. This represents a fundamental reform for a more sustainable and fairer society.
Since the industrial revolution, human activity has placed ever greater pressures on the environment with consequences for the entire planet: the atmosphere is warming and the climate is changing, species are disappearing, forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed. These climate and environmental degradations threaten our health, our well-being, our resilience and even the entire living world. This is why the issues related to climate, the environment and biodiversity and food and health systems must be addressed together.
The European Green Deal aims to respond to these major issues by making the EU's economy more sustainable, competitive and resource-efficient, and by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities. To achieve this, the European policies, from transport and energy to agriculture and finance, must become greener, while stimulating innovation and job creation. The Green Deal proposes a holistic approach, reflecting the complex and interdependent nature of these challenges.
It is essential to consider the interconnection between the different sectors in order to formulate an effective response to climate disruptions, biodiversity loss, water, air and soil pollution, current and future pandemics, etc. It is crucial to make sure all citizens benefit from this new approach.
The Green Deal is an integrated and cross-cutting strategy. It covers all the sectors in our economy and also aims to improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations.
The implementation of these different action areas mobilises the entire FPS and requires the deployment of a cross-cutting approach in accordance with the One World One Health principle.
Strengthen the European Union's climate ambition for 2030 and 2050
The commitment is to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
- Information on climate actions: Climat.be
Provide clean, affordable and safe energy
The European energy system needs to be decarbonised in order to achieve the climate goals. Energy production and consumption represent over 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Information on clean energy
Mobilise industry for a clean and circular economy
The commission aims to establish a European industrial strategy that addresses the double challenge of green and digital transformation. At the same time, it intends to implement a new action plan for the circular economy. This new plan focusses strongly on product design and intends to strengthen consumers' power to guarantee greater circularity (repairability, reuse of components, recycling, etc.). The goal is to keep the (material) resources for manufacturing in circulation in the economy for as long as possible, and therefore reduce the impact on climate and biodiversity.
Promote the construction and renovation of resource- and energy-efficient buildings
Europe wants to encourage energy- and resource-efficient construction and renovation in order to make these sectors cleaner.
Belgium pays particular attention to the environmental impact of a construction product (LCA) throughout its life cycle. The three regions have developed a measurement tool to assess the environmental impact of buildings (TOTEM). This tool uses the environmental information on products (EPD) of the B-EPD Programme of the Federal Public Service Health.
- Information on Building and renovation and on the renovation strategy
- Information on the Revision of the Construction Products Regulation
- Information on the different levels
- Information on CEN/TC 350 and B-EPD
Accelerate the transition towards sustainable and smart mobility
The commission wants to deploy cleaner, more affordable and safer means of public and private transport. This sector represents 25% of our emissions.
- Information on sustainable mobility
"Farm to Fork": for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system
This strategy focuses on the development of a sustainable policy for good quality food with a limited impact on the environment and biodiversity, in particular by encouraging the circular economy. The future strategic plans of the Common Agricultural Policy should specifically include a significant reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics.
"Farm to Fork" also wants to support sustainable food consumption and promote safe and affordable food for all. It aims to involve citizens and to prioritise education initiatives.
- Information on the "Farm to Fork" strategy
Preserve and re-establish ecosystems and biodiversity
To stem the loss of biodiversity and protect and restore our ecosystems, the European Commission has introduced a more ambitious strategy, setting objectives to protect biodiversity across Europe and presenting commitments to combat the loss of biodiversity worldwide.
- Information on biodiversity
Sustainable chemicals and the "zero-pollution" ambition
The new chemicals strategy for sustainability promotes a toxic-free environment. At the same time, it strives to make the European chemicals industry a globally competitive sector and attract investments in safe and sustainable products and production methods.
In 2021, the Commission will also publish an action plan aimed at reducing the pollution of air, water and soil, and including the "zero-pollution" ambition in all its policies.
A budget equal to these ambitions
The estimated budget to address these multiple challenges is considerable, approximately 1,000 billion euros over the next 10 years. The European Union and the European Investment Bank are expected to play a significant role in financing this amount. However, due to the scope of the investments, both the public and private sectors will have to be mobilised.
To ensure a fair and inclusive transition, the European Commission is planning financial support and technical assistance for those living and working in the regions that will be most affected by the transition to a green economy. This is the Just Transition Mechanism which will help to provide at least 150 billion euros over the 2021 - 2027 period.
The Commission is also planning a carbon border adjustment mechanism for some sectors in order to reduce the risk of carbon leakage. The objective is to avoid unfair competition from countries outside the Union who do not make any climate efforts in their production.
This green revolution is ambitious and necessary. It means a fundamental change in policies, production and consumption patterns, requiring the commitment and sense of responsability of all stakeholders as well as the consideration of social issues. Renewable energies and technological innovations will play an important role, but will certainly not be sufficient to meet current and future challenges. The success of this unprecedented gamble will also rely on our willingness to engage in the transition, to change our ways, our thinking and our habits.
The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on social, economic and environmental activities require ambitious and effective budget adjustments to ensure a sustainable recovery. The European Commission has presented a recovery plan that corresponds to the philosophy of the green deal. It is proposing a new instrument for the recovery, Next Generation EU, which highlights the importance of stimulating Europe's resilience.