Written by Agnieszka Widuto.
In line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change, in 2019 the EU adopted an ambitious strategy for reaching climate neutrality by 2050: the European Green Deal. The significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions needed to achieve it will require profound social and economic changes, while ensuring a socially fair and just transition.
As climate change is linked to the greenhouse effect, the EU’s actions for reducing emissions involve greening high-emissions sectors such as fossil fuels-based energy, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and waste management. Triggered by climate change, heatwaves, water stress, wildfires, coastal flooding and extreme weather events affect EU regions with varying degrees of severity and will require a tailored approach to mitigation.
The transition towards climate neutrality cannot be achieved through environmental policies alone. Cohesion policy, which accounts for about one third of the EU budget, supports this process by earmarking funding for climate action, for ‘climate proofing’ investments and for implementing specific actions in EU regions. In addition to the traditional cohesion policy funds (European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and European Social Fund Plus), a new Just Transition Fund will support the transition in regions relying on fossil fuels and high-emissions industries over the period of 2021-2027. Moreover, one out of the five cohesion policy objectives in the current funding period is entirely dedicated to a greener Europe and fosters investment in clean energy, the circular economy, climate change mitigation and sustainable transport. As the main goal of cohesion policy is to prevent the widening of disparities, it can thus help support those regions that bear the heaviest burden of the transition and make sure that no region is left behind.
Local and regional authorities across the EU are also working together to tackle climate challenges by participating in the European Climate Pact and in initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, Mayors Alliance for the European Green Deal, and Green Deal Going Local.
Read the complete briefing on ‘The European Green Deal and cohesion policy‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.