Within the space of a few months, the European Union, South Korea and Canada all adopted ambitious green deals designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition their economies to carbon neutrality.
An inclusive European Green Deal
On December 16 2020, during her first state of the union address, Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, set out her climate goals to a members of the European parliament: a reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The EU’s post-Covid recovery plan has a €750 billion budget: 37% of this will be allocated to the European Green Deal, and 30% of the total will be funded by issuing green bonds. The EU climate law is due to come into force in the summer of 2021, transforming a political statement into a legal obligation.
The accompanying roadmap charts the primary areas where action is needed: protecting ecosystems; ensuring more sustainable food chains; overseeing low-carbon transitions in the energy, transport, agriculture and construction sectors. It describes the need for renovated, thermally efficient buildings and for developing new sources of decarbonized energy. Finally, it also calls for pollution to be eliminated more quickly and efficiently.
Carbon neutrality: South Korea focuses on hydrogen and digital
Just like the European Union, South Korea has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. The €30 billion (42,700 billion won) of additional funding, announced by the government in July 2020 as an add-on to the first 5-year Green New Deal (€113.6 billion – 160,000 billion won), should help achieve this by raising green energies’ share of the energy mix from 20% in 2030 to 30-35% by 2040.
Over the longer term, the administration seeks to support the development of a hydrogen-based economy, aiming to manufacture 500,000 hydrogen-fueled vehicles for the export and domestic markets by 2030. President Moon Jae-in also wants to oversee a booming digital economy by 2025, with the creation of 567,000 jobs in high added-value industries.
In Canada, long road to a Green New Deal
More than a decade after a Global Green New Deal was first proposed, Canada unveiled its Pact for a Green New Deal in May 2019. This calls for greater efforts to keep the country on track to meet greenhouse gas emission targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. In other words:
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The aim is to shift to 100% renewables, stop all extraction and use of tar sands and cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.
These measures could create over one million jobs.
As things stand, these greenhouse gas reductions will be difficult to achieve as Canada’s emissions increased by 8 million metric tons between 2016 and 2017 according to Quebec newspaper Le Devoir. The federal government hopes that technologies for capturing and storing CO2 will help resolve this conundrum in the short term, allowing it to deliver on its international engagements.