One year ago …
We launched a new initiative concerning climate change from an EU perspective. This initiative was not isolated, but it was part of a larger project (Covering Climate Now) on a global scale started by Columbia Journalism Review, the Guardian, and The Nation, which now includes hundreds of journals, magazines, scientists, and high-level institutions around the world. The idea was (and still is) to provide more and better information to citizens (and, in our case, especially lawyers) about the risks and issues related to climate change. We believe information is closely linked to prevention, and there can be no prevention without information. Thus, the fight against climate change begins with sharing and developing knowledge around this subject, and to do so we call lawyers to act.
To achieve this goal, in the last year, we published, regularly, specialized posts that covered the various components of climate change and the plurality of actors involved or affected by its occurrence from a European perspective. By way of example, Marta Torre Schaub provided an overview of climate litigation in Europe; Estelle Brosset et Eve Truilhé analysed the first People Climate Case before the CJEU; Cedric Villani gave us his thoughts on the relationship between artificial intelligence and climate change; Marc Clement reflected on the issues at stake with the EU Green Deal, and Nicolas de Sadeleer examined the Urgenda Case. You can read all our posts, here.
A year has now passed, and it still a year of climate change…
As declared, a few days ago, by the United Nations secretary-general António Guterres, “the climate emergency is (still) the central question facing the world”. His comments came on the eve of a new report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (“WMO”), which said that the last five years have been the hottest on record, pushing global temperatures 1.1 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Among a cascade of alarming findings, the WMO also stated that sea-level rise continues to accelerate and now averages 4.8 millimeters a year, a trend that threatens to submerge vast stretches of coastal areas later this century.
Yet, some major steps have been taken in the last year at the European Union level
to build a comprehensive framework to address climate change. Indeed, in December 2019 the Commission presented the European Green Deal (Green Deal) which lays down the ambition to develop a European net-zero greenhouse gas emission economy by 2050. The Green Deal was followed in January 2020 by the European Green Deal Investment Plan and the Just Transition Mechanism aiming at mobilising over €100 billion throughout the period 2021-2027, so to assist those that will be most affected by the transitioning towards a green economy. As part of the Green Deal, on 4 March 2020, the Commission published the proposal for a European Climate Law, the first European normative act to enshrine the 2050 climate-neutrality target and the EU Green Deal objectives of a net-zero emission economy for EU countries into law. Moreover, alongside government policies and regulations, the Commission launched the European Climate Pact, which collected input from stakeholders to ensure inclusiveness in the EU Green Deal as well as in the design of further climate actions. What is inferable from the described scenario is that the Green Deal’s ambitious objectives, which fall squarely within the EU’s commitment to developing a global climate action under the Paris Agreement, cannot be reached without a comprehensive alignment of activities in all significant critical areas. The many regulatory initiatives required by the overarching EU targets involve a vast array of sectors such as:
- Energy (see the new generation of EU energy labels, the EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen; the Review of renewables and energy efficiency directives, etc.);
- Environment (see the Circular Economy Action Plan which focuses on sustainable resource use; the Farm to fork strategy and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to protect the fragile natural resources, etc. );
- Mobility and transport;
- Regional policy and the low-carbon economy;
- Sustainable finance (see the Regulation on sustainability-related disclosure in the financial services sector; EU taxonomy for sustainable activities; the Low Carbon Benchmarks Regulation etc.);
- Industrial policy (see the European Industrial Strategy);
- Trade and sustainable development;
- Research and innovation on climate change;
- Sustainable development goals.
Notwithstanding these key achievements,
the path forward to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement in terms of reduction of greenhouse emissions and more, broadly, of climate neutrality is still long and arduous and will need striking policies that are effective, legitimate and global.
In this context,
we believe that law is asked, more than ever, to understand and analyse the on-going transformations and to build the framework for the future development of our society. To contribute to this objective, we are reiterating, for this new academic year, our engagement to provide regularly specialized contributions from young scholars and distinguished professors on climate change under EU law. Starting from next week, you will discover on blogdroiteuropéen, new analysis, and insights that will highlight the various components of climate change and the plurality of actors involved or affected by its occurrence from a European perspective.
If you want to contribute
to our reflection on climate change from a European perspective, do not hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV and a proposal for the publication of around 300 words. Your contribution can be in English or French, and can take the form of a post (1000 words) or of a working paper (10-12 pages, Times 12, incl. footnotes).
This initiative will be led for blogdroiteuropéen by Alessandra Donati and Bianca Nalbandian.
Alessandra Donati is a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law. She is also an Attorney in Italy and France and a lecturer at Sciences(PO), at UCLouvain, and the University of Luxembourg
Bianca Nalbandian is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law. She is conducting her Ph.D. on the topic of sovereign wealth funds in international investment law at the University of Luxembourg in joint supervision with the University of Turin.