Europe's long-awaited climate law is a crucial step in fighting climate change not only for European Union countries but also for other regions around the world, although there are some key shortcomings in the proposal.
The European Commission unveiled the draft climate law last Wednesday after EC President Ursula von der Leyen pledged to put a climate law on its agenda on Dec. 1, 2019, when she was elected.
The commission’s proposal for the first European Climate Law aims to write into law the goal set out in the European Green Deal for Europe’s economy and society to become climate-neutral by 2050, according to the EU.
Speaking on the proposal, Baran Bozoglu, head of the Ankara-based Climate Change Policy and Research Association, told Anadolu Agency that the EU Climate Law would be an important example for other continents.
"The EU is defined as the third region with the highest greenhouse gas emissions globally after China and the U.S. Therefore, the steps to be taken would be an important development for reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the world," he said.
Touching on the main reason behind the initiative, Bozoglu said it was an attempt to establish a "tool" that will enable all EU member states to contribute to this goal through a framework law that sets a common goal.
"There are some countries in the EU that already have climate laws such as France, Germany, and Ireland, and there are countries that are still working on climate regulations such as Spain and Croatia. Also, some countries have no laws... So this law was made to overcome the problem of separate implementations against global climate change, which requires a common effort," he said.
Bozoglu said even though climate law is still a draft, dozens of meetings were held and thousands of comments and opinions were taken into account during the negotiations.
"There are framework statements on many issues such as public participation in this process, an evaluation of the measures taken by each country every five years, adaptation to climate change and how to reach the carbon-neutral target," he said, referring to its primary goals.
Touching on the carbon neutrality target by 2050, which has also been set under the Paris Agreement, Bozoglu stressed that by having this issue as a primary goal, the EU has taken the goals of the non-binding Paris Agreement and made them an imperative.
Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by balancing emissions with carbon removal such as with forests and oceans as natural carbon sinks.
"In summary, contrary to the different implementations of different countries, the EU's latest initiative is an arrangement that includes the goals of the Paris Agreement, evaluation processes, and also provides the right to update the targets through various mechanisms within the European Parliament without requiring the law’s amendment," he added.
The proposal aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, improving the quality of life of current and future generations with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.
Along with the positive response, the proposed law has also been criticized by many, including climate activists such as Greta Thunberg.
Explaining some of the criticism of the climate law, Bozoglu said that alongside the 2050 target, there were expectations for more serious targets for 2030, so it was criticized due to failing to meet expectations for the next decade's target.
Although the targets of member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were expected to be announced in June, it will take place in September, he said.
"Because before the COP26 climate conference, which is expected to take place in November in Glasgow, there will not be enough time to discuss these objectives adequately. The expectations were that the EU announced these targets in June instead of September."
However, since it has not been enacted yet, it is possible to update the proposed law with new opinions, he said. He said it is quite difficult to say something clear about this already, and it may be more appropriate to evaluate after its enactment.
"I think there will be some additions and subtractions, and some articles also may be changed," he added.
Touching upon the importance of making a similar climate law in Turkey would be quite helpful for the country, Bozoglu said the issue has been discussed within the Environment and Urbanization Ministry as far as he knows.
"I think by putting a framework climate law on the agenda in the parliament, Turkey would provide support to the EU and the Paris Agreement targets," he added.
By Burak Bir