New climate targets in Europe: on the right track?

In many European countries new laws are under discussion to reduce emissions and counteract climate change. Commentators ask how much we must sacrifice if we want to save the climate - and how environmental protection and a growth-oriented economy can be combined.

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The Times (GB) /

Be clear and honest about the challenges

Boris Johnson has said the UK is also to be climate neutral by 2050. The people must not be led to believe that reaching this target will be easy, warns The Times:

“For some people, in Britain and abroad, the [cost of reaching this target] could feel very big indeed. If we are really serious about overcoming climate change the next phase will be much harder than the last. We need to tackle imported emissions. We will have to get used to changing the way we live. The government will have to move from warm words to difficult and specific policy. It will need to bite the bullet on gas prices, fuel duties and much more besides. The first step is to recognise the challenges much more clearly and honestly. Pretending it will be easy risks making it impossible.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Growth remains indispensable

According to a new draft law, Germany is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65 percent rather than the previously envisaged 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Handelsblatt says this is unrealistic:

“This is all too rushed. ... For example, there are no reliable commitments on crucial matters of financing. And questions of technical feasibility and economic risks are being consistently ignored. ... Without realising it, Germany's grand coalition is faithfully and obediently following the logic that the Federal Environment Agency or various advisory bodies have been preaching for years, according to which growth is no longer socially acceptable and renunciation is now the be all and end all. How money for education, medical advances and social security is to be generated is deliberately left unaddressed by this school of thought.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Maintain as much of our way of life as possible

The Spanish Congress passed the Climate Change and Energy Transition Bill on Thursday. Greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 23 percent by 2030 compared to 1990, with climate neutrality targeted for 2050. La Vanguardia tries to allay concerns about major cuts:

“All this forces major reforms in industry. But the climate emergency we are facing leaves us little choice. And it is not so much a question of changing our way of life as of finding ways and means that allow us to essentially maintain it without destroying our planet in the process, as we have done so far.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Unfair advantages for companies in Switzerland

On 3 June, the Swiss will vote on a new CO2 law. Once again, it will be the people who once again have to bear the brunt of environmental protection measures, complains Thomas Juch of the Jungfreisinnigen, the youth organisation of the Swiss Liberals, in Le Temps:

“The consequences of what is probably the most expensive law of our time are being borne by consumers, who will have to pay all the new taxes and surcharges on existing fees. In the interest of equality, we could now expect both ordinary citizens and very large emitters of greenhouse gases to pay the full price. But from now on, all companies can be exempted from the CO2 tax. Until now, this possibility was limited to certain activities.”