Stepping up Europe’s climate ambitions has never been more urgent for the European Commission. Floods in Belgium and Germany. Fires in Greece and Spain. A sign for scientists that the climate crisis is fuelling more devastating natural disasters.
“There is a huge responsibility on our shoulders because if we fail to act now, and I mean immediately, then our children will never forgive us,” Frans Timmermans, the European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, told the European Parliament.
“That is the essence of the IPCC report that if we don’t act now tipping points will be reached quite soon. We have no choice, we have to act. And one thing I hope to avoid is that we’re paralysed by the fear of change.”
Timmermans was in Strasbourg to defend the Commission’s Fit for 55 package. To make Europe climate neutral, Brussels wants to slash emissions by 55 percent by 2030. But getting EU countries to kick their carbon habit is easier said than done. The bloc is divided over who should foot the bill. For some, the burden should be on polluting industries, not the average citizen.
“We need to end public subsidies for fossil fuels, get rid of free pollution certificates, complement the renovation wave with a solar wave, and accelerate the switch to renewables,” Ska Keller, a Greens MEP from Germany told the chamber.
Anna Zalewska an MEP from Poland said citizens start asking questions about energy price hikes: “They ask about price increases because it’s them that are going to foot the bill for the climate ambitions of the EU.’
The Commission’s proposals range from phasing out of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035 to new taxes on gases from heating buildings, as well as taxes on aviation and maritime emissions.
A global surge in energy prices this year has focused minds on how much the green transition will cost the consumer. Something that will fuel many heated debates in the EU before the green deal moves from promise to reality.
Watch Euronews‘ full report in the video player above.