Climate Fight Brewing in Brussels

By Cole Stangler

It’s been hailed as a potential “seminal moment in the global effort to fight climate change” and an attempt to “give humanity a fighting chance.” But the European Union’s (EU) sweeping new plan to fight global warming could be stymied by a familiar foe of progressive reform in Brussels, home of the EU’s headquarters: high-powered corporate lobbyists.

Earlier this month, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, finally rolled out a long-anticipated plan to meet its goal of reducing emissions 55 percent by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 — offering up a mix of new taxes, stricter emissions standards, and stronger regulations. The sweeping set of proposals could have global repercussions:,  The EU is the third largest economy in the world and the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China, generating more than 7 percent of the planet’s total carbon emissions. .

In many respects, though, the battle is just beginning. To take effect, the legislation needs approval from both European Parliament and from what’s known as a “qualified majority” of national governments — at least 15 of the EU’s 27 member states that together represent at least 65 percent of Europe’s population. All in all, the labyrinthine negotiation process is expected to take around two years.

Many environmental groups already believe the plan on the table doesn’t go far enough. But as governments and legislators prepare to dig into its nearly 4,000 pages worth of text, the EU’s climate package could get watered down even further over the coming months. Some of Europe’s most heavily-polluting industries have already expressed opposition to key measures — and unlike their counterparts from the environmental movement, they have extensive financial resources and formidable lobbying arms they can use to their advantage.

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