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EU Rolls Out a Plan to Become Carbon Neutral by 2050

EU Investment Plan Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2050

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Climate Europe carbon
Greenhouse Gases such as Carbon Dioxide rises from chimneys of the Turow power plant located by the Turow lignite coal mine near the town of Bogatynia, Poland. VOA

By Lisa Bryant

The European Union rolled out a massive, trillion-dollar investment plan Tuesday to deliver on promises to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

The EU would designate one-quarter of its budget to fighting climate change over the next decade. The trillion-dollar price tag would come from a mix of EU and national government funds, as well as investment from the private sector.

It targets the EU’s ambitious goal of ensuring greenhouse emissions reach net zero in 30 years. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who late last year announced that goal — a plan she calls the “Green Deal” — says the investments are for the climate, as well as EU citizens.

“It will be invested in the huge transition ahead of us, which consists of upskilling people in new jobs, clean technologies, green financing, new procedures,” she said.

Climate Europe carbon
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference about the Carbon Neutrality plan of the EU. VOA

The plan prioritizes investment to help coal-dependent countries like Poland transition to green energy. Poland is the only EU member that has not yet signed onto the Green Deal, which would support scientists, businesses and other players in the energy transition. Some of the financing is seed money aimed at triggering much bigger investment.

States that want to qualify for funding must present proposals on low-emission projects as part of how they plan to restructure their economies to be climate friendlier.

The European commissioner for budget and administration, Johannes Hahn, detailed the investment plan at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“We have no time to waste if we want to deliver results for the citizens,” Hahn said. “Or, again in a nutshell, we provide climate cash in order to avoid a climate crash.”

A recent poll shows Europeans fear climate change more than terrorism or losing their jobs.

Still, some EU lawmakers suggest details of the green investment plan are too sketchy. Others believe it should link the funds to deadlines for phasing out coal.

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The European Investment Bank, which is mobilizing the chunk of money, announced last year it would end financing for all fossil fuel projects by the end of 2020, and align future financing goals with the Paris climate agreement.

EU lawmakers are expected to hold a non-binding vote Wednesday on the Green Deal. Von der Leyen aims to have climate legislation adopted by March. (VOA)

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Ozone-Depleting Substance Causes Half of Arctic Warming

Ozone-depleting substances behind half of Arctic warming

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Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss. Pixabay

Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss from 1955 to 2005, causing about a third of all global warming during that period, reveals a significant study.

A scientific paper published in 1985 was the first to report a burgeoning hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone over Antarctica.

The discovery left scientists into a huddle to determine the cause which happened to be ozone-depleting substances – long-lived artificial halogen compounds entirely manmade and popularly used as refrigerants, solvents and propellants.

The new study from researchers at Columbia University and published in the journal Nature Climate Change examined the greenhouse warming effects of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances act as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide and had lead to Arctic warming. Pixabay

It found that the ozone-depleting substances acted as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide, the most pervasive greenhouse gas. “We showed that ODS have affected the Arctic climate in a substantial way,” said researcher Michael Previdi from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The scientists reached their conclusion using two very different climate models that are widely employed by the scientific community, both developed at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. The results highlight the importance of the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries.

“Climate mitigation is in action as we speak because these substances are decreasing in the atmosphere, thanks to the Montreal Protocol,” said Lorenzo Polvani, lead author of the study. “In the coming decades, they will contribute less and less to global warming. It’s a good-news story”.

In the 1980s, a hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which filters much of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, was discovered over Antarctica. Scientists quickly attributed it to ODS. The world sprang into action, finalizing a global agreement to phase out ODS.

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The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and entered into force in 1989. Due to the swift international reaction, atmospheric concentrations of most ODS peaked in the late 20th century and have been declining since.

However, for at least 50 years, the climate impacts of ODS were extensive, revealed the new study. (IANS)