The proposed next European Commission president would raise the EU's ambition on cutting CO₂ emissions to 50% by 2030, and target oil-using sectors such as aviation, shipping and road transport if confirmed in post.
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The EU already has a binding target to cut its CO₂ emissions by at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, and could achieve a 45% cut if it also meets its 2030 energy efficiency and renewable targets.
"Looking at the facts and figures, I feel confident that we can reach a 50% cut in 2030," Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament's Greens group late Wednesday.
Von der Leyen, who if confirmed as EC president would set the priorities for new EU legislation from November 2019 to October 2024, said climate was the top topic for her.
FOCUS ON EU ETS
The EU Emissions Trading System was the place to start to achieve these greater CO₂ cuts, she said.
The EU ETS is a cap and trading system limiting emissions from more than 11,000 industrial installations, including refineries, furnaces and power stations in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as from airlines operating between these countries.
It was set up in 2005 and covers around 45% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.
Von der Leyen said she would propose broadening the ETS to include the maritime and aviation sectors, and would think about how to include road traffic and buildings.
These would start as parallel systems and then converge with the ETS by 2030, she said.
These sectors are big oil users, and so stricter measures here could promote alternative fuels in transport such as electricity, LNG and biofuels.
CARBON BORDER TAX
Von der Leyen also resurrected the idea of a carbon border tax for imported goods not subject to equivalent carbon constraints as goods originating in the EU.
"If we move on converging the emissions trading systems to 2030, we will have to debate the option of a carbon border tax," she said.
Von der Leyen was a last-minute compromise nomination for the EC president post by EU leaders on July 2, and has to be confirmed by the EP.
She is currently Germany's federal government defense minister, and her national political party is in the center-right European Parliament political group EPP.
She has to win the support of an absolute majority of existing parliament members, meaning at least half of them plus one, which is currently 377.
The EPP has 182 members, so von der Leyen needs support from other political groups.
The parliament plans to vote on her confirmation on Tuesday.
-- Siobhan Hall, email@example.com
-- Edited by James Leech, firstname.lastname@example.org