Wednesday July 14, 2021
Climate change for Europe
If you don’t go, you won’t arrive
A comment by Ulrich Reitz
Europe is to become climate neutral by 2050. That will be exhausting and, above all, expensive – for the economy and for the people in Europe. Conflicts are programmed.
Is everything fit? No not at all! The name of the spectacular EU climate protection program “Fit for 55” is misleading. This is not fitness training with the goal of a greener and more climate-friendly Europe. What the team around EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prescribes in the long-awaited climate protection program will be a drastic cure. Some will fail. A lot of muscle soreness is programmed for the rest.
The EU’s new target of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 makes many things more expensive – and different. Electricity prices and transport costs will continue to rise. Our consumer behavior will change. Entire industries have to reinvent themselves. In the end there is an almost complete renunciation of oil, coal and gas.
On more than 1000 pages, the Brussels bureaucrats have noted how the 27 EU states are to achieve their climate goals. Excessive criticism is out of place. The EU Commission only implements what it has long since decided together with the member states and the EU Parliament.
Now it is time to deliver. Every individual and every company has their share in ensuring that the plan works. It will be uncomfortable. For a long time, it was easy to commit yourself loudly and across the board to protecting the environment and climate. Now that it is becoming increasingly clear where the journey is going and concrete restrictions are recognizable, it becomes uncomfortable.
An upswing can result from the transformation
The risks to a prosperous economy that ensures prosperity are enormous. The automotive industry provides an example of the transformation services that are required. From 2035, new vehicles should no longer be allowed to cause emissions. The EU is thus banning internal combustion engines. The car manufacturers are reacting. More and more electric models are celebrating their premiere. Audi, for example, does not want to present any new combustion cars in four years. Suppliers who manufacture parts that will no longer be needed in the future panic. Engineers question their studies. And drivers are wondering how this should work when there are far too few charging stations.
It will be exciting to see how politics behaves. So far, a lot has been going too slowly. Wind turbine providers complain about lengthy approval procedures. And steel producers fear that they will often lose out in global competition. Because the climate targets presented are limited to Europe. Domestic companies that compete with Chinese companies outside the EU, for example, could suffer a disadvantage. Protective tariffs and international agreements would prevent that. But trade conflicts could threaten.
Nevertheless: The EU’s climate protection program points the way in the right direction. Just paying lip service will not save the planet. The first steps will be difficult. But if you never start, you never arrive. It is important that the competitiveness of companies and thus as many jobs as possible are protected. Then the transformation can even lead to an upswing.