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The European Commission wants to be a role model for the world, on a mission to cut greenhouse gas emissions 55% (as compared to 1990) by 2030. Following the pledges of nations around the globe to improve the environment, the E.U. bloc’s 27 countries will work together to find ways to reach this momentous goal.

The Better and Worse of Fossil Fuel Producers

The E.U. has aspirations to unroll a plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050. So, Brussels has committed in law to take specific actions by 2030.

Europe will pivot away from fossil fuels in the next nine years. To date, plans include raising the price of fossil fuels, eliminating the sale of gas and diesel-fueled cars, and issuing tariffs on imports from countries with less-stringent environmental rules. 

Historically, Europe and the United States are the biggest polluters and producers of greenhouse gases. However, Europe now produces just 8% of current global emissions, making the United States and China the current biggest polluters.

The United States pledges to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. The goal is not as ambitious as the E.U. or Britain (pledging to reduce emissions by 68%), but better than that of China (claiming its emissions will peak by 2030).

Europe’s Plans to Become Carbon-Neutral

The E.U. plans to sell the last of cars reliant on fossil fuels by 2035. Moreover, it wants all energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. To provide more incentive, taxes will increase for those too reliant on fossil fuels, and the E.U. will assist companies that are compliant yet need financial assistance in becoming carbon-neutral.

Is Carbon-Neutral Another Term for Disadvantaged?

The E.U. originally set the proposed goal to decrease fossil fuels by 40% and then modified the goal to 55% in June. While there’s no disagreement that going carbon-neutral is great for the environment, companies within specific industries worry about what’s to be spared in reaching the goal.

For example, what’s to become of companies that manufacture and produce to serve the fossil-fuel economy (such as those who fabricate parts for diesel engines)? Others find potential holes in ostensibly fair regulations. A jet fuel tax will apply to flights within the European Union, yet that regulation leaves those flying out of the Union, accounting for 60% of fuel sales, exempt.

Moreover, some industries face inherent disadvantages and geopolitical complications. For example, those that produce iron face larger barriers since production releases a lot of emissions. Also, a cross-border tax would weigh heavily on goods coming from Russian and Turkey (iron, steel, and aluminum).

Getting Carbon-Neutral Per Industry

While all angles are still being considered, companies struggle with the implications given the ambiance of respective industries. Automakers need to face the reality of the last fossil-fueled car to be sold in 2035. Yet, to date, most of the automakers’ profits come from selling fossil-fueled vehicles.

Airlines will no longer receive breaks on using fossil fuels, so that means mixing-in synthetic fuel to avoid higher taxes. This may change the way some parcels are shipped which may also influence delivery times and available space due to shipping by other methods. But, it won’t likely be on water since most shipping is done by vessels running on low-grade oil — a major source of pollution. 

European steel makers warn that the new standards will cause them to lose a competitive advantage to China (the world’s largest polluter). Increased taxes tied to carbon emissions would also largely influence cement used in construction.

Presently, renewable energy accounts for 20% of electricity produced throughout Europe. It’s to be 40% by 2030. Until goals are reached, utility companies will pay a higher fine for delivering energy powered by fossil fuels, making wind and solar alternatives even more valuable.