The European Union on Wednesday announced a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by the end of the decade, a target that outpaces that of the U.S., Britain or China.
The proposal from Brussels includes an alteration to the EU’s carbon market, the mechanism by which major industrial carbon producers such as the steel industry pay for emissions. It would also include a border-adjustment tax on non-European goods that would offset the disadvantage to domestically-produced goods subject to the regulations, according to the Times.
The U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to reduce its own emissions by up to 43 percent by 2030, while China, the world’s biggest emitter, expects its own emissions to peak by that point.
The measure must first pass the European Parliament, where it is likely to be the subject of sharp debate and be extensively amended.
The proposals also include plans to make at least 38.5 percent of all energy renewable by the end of the decade, establish a carbon market for buildings and road transportation and phase out internal-combustion vehicles by 2035.
Buildings and road transportation collectively comprise more than half of all European emissions, but addressing them will likely be contentious, as it will affect the middle and working classes.
Politicians and policymakers have been hesitant to attempt to take approaches to climate change that could lead to increased taxes. In 2018, increases in fuel taxes that affected the working class led to widespread protests and riots by the so-called yellow vest movement in France.
Ensuring the proposals are implemented with an eye toward equity “becomes the most important element to make it successful in the long run,” Simone Tagliapietra of economic think tank Bruegel told The New York Times.
The ambition of the proposals, he added, makes Europe “the first large economy in the world to start translating climate neutrality ambition into real-world policy action.”
“But if there is one principle that should be guiding the negotiations over the next two years, this certainly is the principle of climate justice,” he added.