New EU President Ursula von der Leyen Climate-Focused

Ursula von der Leyen was elected by the European Parliament as the first female President of the European Commission on Tuesday. Her climate change platform played a decisive role after liberal, socialist and green blocs all demanded von der Leyen strengthen her climate platform as a condition for their support.

The German former Defence minister received the majority she needed, with votes 383 to 327.

Céline Charveriat, Executive Director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy, said in a press release that for the first time, climate change had become “a make or break issue for garnering sufficient votes.”

Following an intense negotiations with the EU’s key political groups, von der Leyen embraced increasing the EU’s emissions reduction target to 55% by 2030 – a target the EU parliament endorsed in a non-binding vote last March. However, in her final proposal ahead of the vote, the commitment was altered to a “two-step approach” to “reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 by 50, if not 55%.”

As part of her climate initiative, she pledged to present a “green deal” for Europe in her first hundred days in office. She also committed to legislate on the bloc to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and will lead international negotiations with the largest emitters by 2021.

Other measures include revamping parts of the European Investment Bank into a climate bank to unlock €1 trillion of investment over the next decade.

Image Courtesy of European Union 2019/EP.

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