In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd (M, EPP) some questions.
In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law, which will - among other things - bind the EU to becoming climate neutral by 2050. The proposal, which has received considerable attention, will now be discussed and processed by MEPs and Member States in the Council.
What impact will the European Climate Law, if implemented, have on businesses? How does the bill align with the European Green Deal? How will people notice the impact of a new European climate law? We wanted to know more; therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd (M, EPP) some questions. She is a member of ENVI, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
1. In March, the European Commission published its proposed European Climate Law. What significance does this have in your opinion? Is there anything you find better or worse, or would like to see changed in the Commission’s proposal?
This is one of the most important legislative proposals that we will work on during this term, partly because it is about meeting one of our greatest societal challenges, and partly because it will broadly affect the conditions for companies to operate in Europe.
Basically, the European Commission's proposal is good, but I worry that it will be far too much focus on using the forest to absorb carbon dioxide alone, instead of using the forest as a resource to replace fossil-based products and materials.
It is also important that all Member States achieve climate neutrality. We must understand that the member states have different conditions to change, but at the same time make demands on those who have not come this far yet. The era when other countries can take advantage of our ambitious climate work must come to an end.
2. The European Climate Law sets out the EU’s ambition to become climate neutral by 2050. What concrete tools do you believe Sweden will need to achieve this goal?
Sweden has already come much further than many other EU Member States, but there are still many other things we need to do. Not least, we need to give companies and industries the right conditions to adapt and change. It is highly problematic that a ‘small issue’ such as long licensing processes present such barriers to the many companies that seek to change. This point needs to be properly addressed.
3. How would the proposal affect business in Sweden within the EU and how will it affect the EU relative to the rest of the world, particularly from a competitiveness perspective and the risk of activities and investments being placed moved out of the EU as a consequence? Do you consider there has been an adequate impact assessment on the proposal?
I am deeply concerned that Jytte Guteland and the Social Democrats are seeking to raise the 2030 target to 65 percent. This is a proposal that would be directly detrimental to both Swedish and European industry. Europe needs to change, but that does not mean that we should shut down completely. We will make no difference to the climate if we set demands that are so high and unrealistic that the consequences are ultimately that we move both operations and emissions beyond the borders of Europe.
Whether we raise the 2030 target by 5 percent or 10 percent, we need a proper impact assessment; otherwise everything else is irresponsible. This is an aspect that we, as moderates, drive; we need to know how the proposals will affect, for example, jobs and companies and whether they have sufficient impact. Unfortunately, other party groups care less about it.
4. How will the Climate Law affect small and medium-sized companies (SMEs)?
Greater climate ambitions will require everyone to play their part in reducing emissions, regardless of the size of the company. But it is reasonable to expect larger companies and whole industries to pull a heavier load during the transition.
5. How will you, as a Member of the European Parliament, work on this issue in the future?
Above all, I work on issues relating to forestry and nuclear power. Among other things, I work on the protection of active forestry and ensuring that forests are seen as a resource in the climate change transition, used to reduce emissions.
We must also not stare blindly at renewables; however the important thing is fossil-free energy sources. Nuclear power will be crucial if we are to succeed in securing clean energy so that the transport and industrial sectors have the required conditions for change. Therefore, it is problematic that the European Commission and the European Parliament are so deeply critical of nuclear power and place its use at a disadvantage. We are working to change this.
6. How well do you think this plan is aligned with the EU Commission's proposed recovery package, and the restart to which the European Green Deal is designed to contribute?
The recovery package has many shortcomings, particularly the fact that it is overly based on grants rather than on loans. However, it is good that it gives the EU an opportunity to make investments in the climate and environment arenas earlier than planned. At the same time, it is vital to follow up these investments, to ensure that they actually lead to reduced emissions rather than simply to increased waste.
7. How much attention do you think your constituents will pay to the Climate Law? How will it affect them in their everyday lives?
Sweden already has tougher climate and environmental requirements, than other Member States, so I think Swedish voters will generally be less affected compared to countries. This will be a way to bring the rest of Europe reduce their emissions.
8. In September, the European Commission will also present an analysis of how the 2030 climate target can be raised from the current 40 percent to 50-55 percent. What is your view on raising the 2030 target? Do you see any specific risks or aspects that the Commission should specifically highlight in its impact assessment? Moderaterna** support a 50-55 percent increase, as long as there is a thorough impact assessment of what such an increase actually means. It must not dampen down European business
9. What is your position on the European Commission's announced proposal for a Carbon Border Adjustment instrument? In addition, if you do think they should be introduced, how do you see them being designed to be WTO compliant and to not adversely affect the EU's external trade? Do you see any special benefits or risks from the proposal?
Moderaterna** are still friends of free trade, but we also understand that our companies and industry may lose competitiveness due to increased environmental and climate requirements. This is something we have included in our calculations. We now await the proposal to see in more detail how it has been designed.
** Moderaterna is a Swedish center-right political party member of the EPPEU