Regulation (EU) 2021/1119 establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality (‘European Climate Law’)

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Publication Date 09/07/2021
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Regulation (EU) 2021/1119 - adopted by the European Union on 30 June 2021 - establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality in the European Union (EU). It amends Regulation (EC) N0 401/2009 and Regulation (EU) 2018/1999. The Regulation is also known as the European Climate Law.

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The Communication setting out the European Green Deal launched a new growth strategy for the European Union (EU). The European Green Deal also reaffirms the European Commission's ambition to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Tackling climate change is seen as an urgent challenge, one which requires the EU to step its action to show global leadership by setting such target, covering all sectors of the economy and compensating, by 2050, not only any remaining CO2 but also any other remaining greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as set out in the 2018 Communication on A Clean Planet for All.

The idea was first unveiled with the European Green Deal upon its launch in November 2019. A public discussion was launched in January 2020. The original draft law was tabled by the European Commission on 4 March 2020. It aimed at the establishment of a framework for achieving climate neutrality in the EU. It provided a direction by setting a pathway to achieve the objective, and enhance certainty and confidence on the commitment. It put forward legally-binding target net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. This would mean achieving such a target for EU Member States as a whole. The proposed text aimed to ensure that all policies contribute to this goal and all sectors of society and economy play their part.

The relevant committee of the European Parliament held a meeting to discuss this proposal upon its publication on 4 March, which was attended by Greta Thunberg. This committee adopted on 10 September 2020 its position on the initiative. On 17 September, the European Commission tabled an amended proposal to reflect a revised target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as stated in the so-called 2030 Climate Target Plan.

The plenary of the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on 7 October, which further increases the target to 60% from the Commission's proposed 55%. The Council of the European Union adopted a partial general approach on this proposal at a meeting on 23 October, and a full general approach at a meeting on 17 December. This was as a result of political guidance by the European Council set out earlier in the month by a political agreement on a binding target for the European Union (EU) of a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in (GHG) emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990).

An informal agreement between the co-legislators on a compromise text for this draft law was reached on 21 April 2021. Both the Council and the Parliament formally endorsed the text in June 2021. The Regulation was signed on 30 June 2021 and published in the Official Journal on 9 July 2021.

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Commentary and Analysis
Politico, 04/03/2020: Brussels’ climate ambitions run into national resistance
EurActiv: Special Reports, March 2020: Europe’s new Climate Law: Leaving no-one behind?
Eversheds Sutherland: Articles, 23/03/2020: Delivering climate neutrality- the European Climate Law
Maastricht University: Law Blog, 30/03/2020: The European climate law: too much power for the Commission?
Greenpeace, 28/04/2020: EU Parliament lead negotiator backs 65% climate emission cuts by 2030
EEB: Library, 03/05/2020: Response to the proposed EU Climate Law Policy & Economics, 18/06/2020: The EU Climate Law: Europe’s Man on the Moon Moment?
Confederation of Finnish Industries: Blog, 02/07/2020: Nordic discussion on the role of business in reaching the objectives of climate action and economic recovery,commitments%20to%20the%20Paris%20agreement.
LSE: Grantham Institute: Policy Publication, 03/09/2020: The design of an independent expert advisory mechanism under the European Climate Law: What are the options?
EurActiv, 07/09/2020: A ‘solidarity clause’ in the EU climate law
World Wide Fund for Nature: European Office, 09/09/2020: Will MEPs turn ‘climate emergency’ words into a climate law that works?
Politico, 10/09/2020: 4 things to know about the EU’s battle to cut emissions
EPRS: At a Glance, September 2020: Framework for achieving climate neutrality
Bruegel: Blog, 06/10/2020: The European climate law needs a strong just transition fund
IDDRI: Blog, 10/03/2021: The EU Climate Law’s key governance question: why could the EU use a climate watchdog?
Climate Works Foundation: Blog, 05/05/2021: New EU climate law delivers innovative policy framework to advance carbon removal and avoid moral hazard
E3G: Commentary, 10/05/2021: The European Climate Law agreement is about more than new targets
EPRS: Briefing, June 2021: European climate law
EPRS: At a Glance, June 2021: Adopting the European Climate Law
Verfassungsblog, 07/07/2021: The New EU Climate Law. Symbolic Law or New Governance Framework?

EurActiv: Topics: EU Climate Law
Politico: Tags: European Climate Law
The Guardian, 29/11/2019: Proposed EU-wide 'climate law' would set net-zero carbon target by 2050
EUObserver, 29/01/2020: Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states
Reuters, 02/03/2020: Environment groups say EU's planned climate law means a lost decade
Associated Press, 03/03/2020: Greens, Thunberg say EU climate law lacks ambition
The Guardian, 04/03/2020: Focus on coronavirus shows need for climate law, says EU official
The New York Times, 04/03/2020: E.U. Proposes a Climate Law. Greta Thunberg Hears ‘Empty Words.’
Associated Press, 04/03/2020: EU commission unveils climate law amid criticism
EurActiv, 04/03/2020: EU’s Timmermans responds to Greta’s criticisms over European Climate Law
BBC News, 04/03/2020: Greta Thunberg brands EU's new climate law 'surrender'
EUObserver, 04/03/2020: EU climate law slammed for delaying action
Politico, 04/03/2020: Greta Thunberg rains on EU climate law parade
EurActiv, 05/03/2020: EU’s next top climate model under scrutiny
Reuters, 08/05/2020: European lawmakers to consider tougher climate law: draft
EurActiv, 29/05/2020: EU lawmakers debate 65% climate target proposal
Reuters, 10/09/2020: EU Parliament's environment committee votes to support 60% EU emissions cut by 2030
EurActiv, 11/09/2020: EU lawmakers up the ante, vote for 60% climate target for 2030
Reuters, 06/10/2020: European Parliament set for tight vote on 'historic' climate law
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Bloomberg, 07/10/2020: Carbon Prices Jump After EU Assembly Backs Tougher Climate Goals
The Guardian, 08/10/2020: EU parliament votes for 60% greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2030
Reuters, 08/10/2020: European Parliament cements position on climate change before haggling by member states
Deutsche Welle, 08/10/2020: European Parliament confirms 2030 climate target to cut emissions
EurActiv, 16/10/2020: EU leaders to decide tougher climate goal in December
Euronews, 19/10/2020: Several countries threatening EU's 2050 carbon neutral goal, says MEP
EurActiv, 23/10/2020: EU environment ministers strike deal on climate law, leave out 2030 target
EUObserver, 26/10/2020: Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country
Reuters, 06/01/2021: EU's landmark climate law to be finalised within months, Portugal says
Reuters, 02/02/2021: EU climate law talks dodge the 'elephant in the room'
EUObserver, 04/03/2021: EU capitals water down MEPs' ambition in climate law
Euronews, 21/04/2021: 'We have a deal': EU to cut emissions by 'at least 55%' by 2030
EurActiv, 21/04/2021: Breakthrough as EU negotiators clinch deal on European climate law
Deutsche Welle, 22/04/2021: EU strives to become climate leader with new law, 27/04/2021: New cabinet must do more to meet EU climate law, says Timmermans
Associated Press, 24/06/2021: EU lawmakers approve deal on climate neutrality by 2050
Reuters, 24/06/2021: Climate 'law of laws' gets European Parliament's green light
Euronews, 24/06/2021: European Parliament gives final approval to EU's 2050 climate neutrality target
EurActiv, 24/06/2021: Greens join far-right in bid to stop EU climate law
EUObserver, 25/06/2021: MEPs approve EU climate law - without Greens' support
Reuters, 28/06/2021: EU countries approve landmark climate change law

EUR-Lex: COM(2020)80: Proposal for a Regulation establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality (European Climate Law)
EUR-LEX: COM(2020)563: Amended Proposal for a Regulation establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality (European Climate Law)
European Commission: DG Climate Action: European Climate Law
General Secretariat of the Council: Policies: Climate change: what the EU is doing
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Framework for achieving climate neutrality (2020/0036(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: European Climate Law Enshrining the 2050 Climate Neutrality Objective
European Commission: High-level public conference on implementing the European Green Deal - the European Climate Law (28 January 2020)
European Commission: Press Release, 04/03/2020: Committing to climate-neutrality by 2050: Commission proposes European Climate Law and consults on the European Climate Pact
European Commission: Questions and answers on the European Climate Law and Climate Pact (4 March 2020)
European Commission: Press remarks by President von der Leyen on the occasion of the adoption of the European Climate Law (4 March 2020)
European Commission: College read-out on the European Climate Law by Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans (4 March 2020)
European Parliament: Press Release, 04/03/2020: Greta Thunberg to MEPs: 'we will not allow you to surrender our future'
S&D Group: Press Release, 10/09/2020: S&Ds: a great first victory today on Climate Law that lets the EU take a step in the direction of carbon neutrality
European Parliament: Press Release, 11/09/2020: EU climate law: MEPs want to increase emission reductions target to 60% by 2030
Greens/EFA Group: Dossier: All About the EU Climate Law
German Federal Government: FAQs, 29/09/2020: On the way to a European Climate Law
European Parliament: Press Release, 08/10/2020: EU climate law: MEPs want to increase 2030 emissions reduction target to 60%
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 23/10/2020: European climate law: Council reaches agreement on large parts of the proposal
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 17/12/2020: Council agrees on full general approach on European climate law proposal
Greens/EFA Group: Press Release, 17/03/2021: EU Environment Council and Climate Law - Quote from Bas Eickhout MEP
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 21/04/2021: European climate law: Council and Parliament reach provisional agreement
European Commission: Press Release, 21/04/2021: Commission welcomes provisional agreement on the European Climate Law
EPP Group: Newsroom, 21/04/2021: Historic agreement on Climate Law: 55 percent net is very ambitious
European Parliament: Press Release, 21/04/2021: MEPs reach deal with Council on obligation for EU to be climate neutral by 2050
GUE/NGL Group: News, 23/06/2021: Left MEPs won’t support hollow Climate Law
European Parliament: Press Release, 24/06/2021: EU Climate Law: MEPs confirm deal on climate neutrality by 2050
Portuguese Council Presidency: News, 24/06/2021: European Parliament Passes European Climate Law
EPP Group: Newsroom, 24/06/2021: Climate Law: irrational, foolish and absurd if Greens vote with far-right
S&D Group: Newsroom, 24/06/2021: S&Ds: Today’s historic day. Climate Law is reality. EU will be the first emissions free continent by 2050
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 28/06/2021: Council adopts European climate law

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