Cohesion policy for a just transition to climate neutrality

Transitioning to a climate-neutral society is an urgent challenge for the European countries to build a better future for all their citizens. This challenge plays a key role in empowering citizens and investing in innovative solutions that align in action to achieve climate neutrality. So what is climate neutrality, and how does the EU work to find adequate solutions.

The term “climate neutrality” is used to refer to the idea of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and that by balancing the said emissions so that they can be equal to the emissions that get removed through the planet’s natural absorption. To put it quite simply, it means that both individuals and organizations must reduce emissions through tangible climate actions. We can achieve climate neutrality by reducing to a minimum the CO₂ emissions. The European Commission presented an ambitious proposal to be embodied in the European legislation. The EU is politically committed to being climate neutral by the end of 2050, for it to protect the planet and therefore its inhabitants. President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed: “We are acting today to make the EU the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The Climate Law is the legal translation of our political commitment and sets us irreversibly on the path to a more sustainable future. It is the heart of the European Green Deal. It offers predictability and transparency for European industry and investors. And it gives direction to our green growth strategy and guarantees that the transition will be gradual and fair.”

A lot of organizations are not able to reduce their emissions to zero immediately or for the time being, however, climate neutrality takes several years to make the technological investments and advancements to change the habits that climate neutrality requires. As an example to illustrate the various efforts of the EU to make the continent more climate-neutral, we can take the example of, Frank Breul GmbH, a German-based company that produces green cement. Making cement is a carbon-intensive process that makes up 10-15% of concrete, which requires burning toxic materials that impact badly the environment. The construction materials company had some help from the EU funding to develop new technologies to reduce the volume of CO2 emissions generated during production. The project “Concrete Green - Novel production of fiber cement using renewable energy” is an investment of 1 538 900 euros, alongside the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contribution of 461 670 euros. With the help of the funding, the firm will be capable of reducing its carbon emissions by a total of 272 tonnes per year at its production facilities in Hessen. The company also devoted some of the funding to renewable energy, which will help lower environmental the impact of the production process even more. With the use of solar panels, green electricity is provided in the concrete factory. This initiative saves up to around 60 000 kW of electricity a year; which is the equivalent of a year’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions from seven cars. With the use of renewable energies, such as the sun, in this case, the company can reduce its energy consumption by 25 %.

As we can see, the industry can become more sustainable and reducing its carbon pollution. The EU tries to achieve its goal of making Europe the first continent climate-neutral in 2050 and that by funding the green initiatives of a lot of inventive projects from all over the EU.

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