"The legislative proposal sets out what pace the EU should adopt in its climate work"

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EU In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland (S, S&D) some questions.

Jytte Guteland
Foto: Thierry ROGE

"As the rapporteur in the European Parliament, it is my task to draw up Parliament's opinion on the Commission's proposal and then negotiate the final legislative text with the Member States", says Jytte Guteland, MEP.

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 Jytte Guteland (S, S&D) 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?
The Climate Act is the framework for ensuring that the EU makes the transition from what began as the Coal and Steel Union to a climate neutral union. The legislative proposal sets out what pace and ambition the EU should adopt in its climate work. As the rapporteur in the European Parliament, it is my task to draw up Parliament's opinion on the Commission's proposal and then negotiate the final legislative text with the Member States. On 28 May, I presented my report, which contained a series of proposals on how to accelerate and broaden the ambition of EU climate work.

Throughout the process, it has been important for me to listen to what the research says about the importance of sticking to the Paris Agreement's stated goal of limiting warming to 1.5-degrees. Among other things, this is about raising goals for the year 2030 and the year 2040. In this article (Swedish), I describe the key components of my proposal.

2. The European Climate Law sets out an ambition for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050. What concrete tools do you consider necessary for Sweden to achieve this goal?
Sweden has a more ambitious target, seeking climate neutrality by 2045. This is good; Sweden has both the opportunity and the motivation to take the lead in climate work. It will give us important competitive advantages of being early in the transition.

However, in concrete terms, it means that all sectors of society must contribute individually and collectively to climate neutrality. Here, a clear dialogue and effective cooperation is important. This is why I also propose in my report that, in line with the Swedish work in Fossil Free Sweden, all EU countries should enable each economic sector to develop their roadmaps for how they will contribute to climate neutrality.

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 believe that the green challenge is the single most important challenge facing Sweden, the EU and the world. I am also worried that if we do not embrace change quickly enough, other parts of the world will prevail, which would have very negative consequences for the EU's future competitiveness.

4. How will the Climate law affect small and medium-sized companies (SMEs)?
SMEs currently account for some two-thirds of employment in the EU, therefore these companies will obviously play an important role in the transition to climate neutrality. The changeover is an opportunity in itself, but it requires instruments and predictability so that companies have the chance to invest in climate-smart solutions and create green jobs. Here, as part of the growth strategy for Europe's Green Deal, the Climate Law will be a central framework for the transition. It is also important that the conditions for SMEs and employment are taken into account in the forthcoming efforts, as the EU updates its climate and energy legislation to align it with the goal of climate neutrality.

5. How will you, as a Member of the European Parliament, work on this issue in the future?
Currently, I am negotiating compromises on the report that I presented in European Parliament at the end of May. The challenge will be to agree common positions that can gather a majority, first in the environmental committee and then in Parliament as a whole. Following that, I will lead the negotiations when we come to an agreement on a final Climate Law, during so-called tripartite negotiations (Trilogues) with the European Council and the Commission.

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?
We set out the direction within the Climate Law in order to manage the change to climate neutrality by 2050.

7. How much attention do you think your constituents will pay to the Climate Law? How will it affect them in their everyday lives?
I think it will affect them in a number of ways, but it is difficult to pinpoint anything concrete. If we are to succeed in the transition, it needs to take place at all levels, so obviously it will impact everyone. However, the major work will be undertaken at the macro level. The choices that individuals make are important, but it is only by working together as a society that we will be able to achieve climate change.

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?In order for us to succeed in meeting the Paris Agreement's target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees, we need to raise our ambition to 65 percent by 2030. This is also what I propose in my report.

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?
It is clear that there are challenges in such a proposal, therefore we must wait and see how the Commission chooses to proceed in this matter.

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