In 2022, the European Union will make unprecedented progress on climate and the environment

Posted on December 29, 2022

The reform of the carbon market, the carbon tax at borders, the end of thermal vehicles, the ban on products resulting from deforestation, the continuous reporting of companies… 2022 was reflected in many developments in European environmental regulations. For this end of the year, Novethic invites you to return to a selection of remarkable events.

At the end of the year, trilogue agreements increased within the European Union. The Council of Europe, consisting of governments, the European Parliament and the Commission, has succeeded in developing a number of regulations aimed at strengthening its activities in the field of environmental protection. 2022 has indeed made it possible to turn into law the main measures of the “55 in line” plan, presented in the summer of 2021, which aims to reduce the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The European legislative process, so the European Commission, set out to draft directives and regulations, allowing MEPs of Parliament and member states within the Council of Europe to discuss them before reaching a compromise.

Thus, reducing the continent’s greenhouse gas emissions has been the subject of a number of laws and regulations. Among the most symbolic is the agreement to ban new cars with combustion engines in Europe from 2035. In October, the members of the European Parliament and the Member States approved the text, which envisages the reduction of CO2 emissions from new cars to zero from this date. Electric vehicles will then be the only vehicles available for sale. A particularly structured text for the automotive industry, which is beginning to reorganize its design and manufacturing methods to move from heat engines to electric motors.

Carbon market reform

Another special structuring text for the European economy was adopted in December and this text allows to reform the carbon market. Therefore, the European Union has decided to extend it to sea and air transport, which will have to pay for their CO2 emissions, as well as heat and road transport. It imposes a carbon tax at borders to rebalance competition between European producers subject to the carbon market and those outside the Union. And it accepts the phasing out of free emission quotas. European authorities aim to force manufacturers to decarbonize their production methods by putting a price on carbon.

The issue of preservation of biodiversity has also worried the European authorities several times. In early December, they agreed on a regulation aimed at combating imported deforestation. This law will ban the export of products from deforested areas to the European market. This applies to food raw materials such as coffee, soy or palm oil, as well as leather, rubber, etc. refers to materials such as Importing companies will have to prove during customs clearance that their products do not come from deforested areas.

Some progress in fishing

The European Union has decided to better regulate deep-sea fishing, taking into account marine biodiversity. In September, the Commission banned bottom fishing vessels from entering certain European waters. This decision aims to protect marine ecosystems located at a depth of 400 meters. But Europe did not want to regulate all fishing techniques that have a destructive effect on nature.

In September, the European trilogue thus voted against a ban on demersal seine, a technique that aims to deploy nets up to three square kilometers that emit vibrations to dislodge fish. This highly destructive and indiscriminate practice is particularly criticized for its impact on ecosystems.

Finally, 2022 also saw progress in sustainable finance. The CSRD directive (Corporate sustainability reporting directive) was approved by the Parliament and the Council of Europe. This text reinforces the sustainability reporting obligations of large companies, which from 2024 must publish information on the environmental and social impacts of their activities.

Arnaud Dumas, @ADumas5

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