In an important announcement at the WEF, the president of the EU Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen revealed plans for green policies in Europe.
The World Economic Forum annual meeting is currently on its way in Davos, Switzerland. Leaders and influential people of the world meet there to announce strategies for the future in matters that go from energy to technology.
This year is no different, with the president of EU Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen announcing a plan for supporting European green industries. Europe and China were the only two developed parts of the world that reduced carbon emissions in 2022, though it could be bound to change in 2023.
Indeed, the war in Ukraine revamped fossil fuel industries all across the continent, revealing the enormous dependence of Europe on natural gas.
However, the lack of Russian energetic supplies could also be an opportunity for Europe to re-launch green industries. Even though the United States were the highest polluters last year, president Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act allocates $369 billion on green industries and policies.
Furthermore, America’s decision to grant tax incentives on electric vehicles buyers was met with hostility by the European Union. In fact, many car manufacturers were considering moving to the States from Europe, depriving them of a very profitable industry.
US policies were not unpopular everywhere in Europe. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, for example, actually thinks the EU could take them as a benchmark. “We need to reform some internal aspects of our industrial policies such as state aid,” he said. “Reducing bureaucracy and trying to send a message for the industry worldwide that it’s Europe, and of course Spain, that is a good place to locate”.
Von Der Leyen’s plan
And it now seems that higher EU officials got the message: if you want the market to operate within your borders, adapt. At Davos, Ursula Von Der Leyen unveiled the Commission’s plan for a comprehensive green policies package.
The goal for this package is to kickstart the EU’s net-zero path, starting the first steps to reach zero carbon emissions in 2050. “We need to create a regulatory environment that allows us to scale up fast and to create conducive conditions for sectors crucial to reaching net zero,” she said. “This includes wind, heat pumps, solar, clean hydrogen, storage and others”.
The Net-Zero Industry Act will be put forward in the middle of the year, probably trying to work out the 2024 budget. As always, the EU’s legislation path is painstakingly slow, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
So far, Europe’s Green New Deal did not put forward any concrete policy. The only real mid-way step was to ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2035.
To paraphrase a famous quote: “The best time to start net-zero policies was ten years ago, the second best time is now”.