On 11 December, the new European Commission under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen presented the “European Green Deal“, which is “a roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities”. It announces the publication of at least 47 new legislative or policy proposals within the next 1-2 years including a law to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and an increase of 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets to at least 50% to 55%. First Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans (Netherlands) is responsible to coordinate this “European Green Deal” and the actions of his colleagues like Transport Commissioner Adina-Ioana Valean (Romania), Environment-Oceans-Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius (Lithuania) and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson (Estonia).

Among the measures that are the most relevant to the petrochemicals industry are:

  • An EU ‘Climate Law’ proposal in March 2020 to achieve the 2050 climate neutrality objective
  • An increase of GHG 2030 targets – the Commission impact will carry out an impact assessment by summer 2020 on increasing 2030 GHG reduction targets to at least 50% to 55%.
  • An EU industrial strategy by March 2020 to address the twin challenge of the green and the digital transformation.
  • The circular economy action plan will include a ‘sustainable products’ policy.
  • A carbon border adjustment mechanism for “selected sectors” to reduce the risk of carbon leakage, but not until 2021
  • A zero-pollution action plan for air, water and soil in 2021
  • A revision by June 2021 of the CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans legislation
  • A renewed sustainable finance strategy in the third quarter of 2020

The Green Deal paper also recognizes that “energy-intensive industries, such as steel, chemicals and cement, are indispensable to Europe’s economy, as they supply several key value chains“ and that “the decarbonization and modernization of this sector is essential”. It also acknowledges the importance of “new technologies, sustainable solutions and disruptive innovation” “to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal.”

For more information, please read Petrochemicals Europe’s summary and the Green Deal communication.