European Green Deal and Its Reflection On Other World Economies

Abstract

In the last century, we live in, especially the brutal use of fossil fuels causes all of us to feel the climate change deeply. The nations that have taken advantage of nature and the environment for a very long time unconsciously make wealth and profit from it. Previously, imperial states took advantage of these spoils and riches and developed. Now, China is doing the same for its purposes; however, concepts such as sustainability are no longer sufficient to prevent this exploitation of nature. Some steps have been taken by the official authorities for this issue. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal are among the most important examples of the subject. With the agreement signed in 2019, many countries trading with Europe now have to try to meet the terms of these agreements, which sometimes creates challenges for established economies and provides benefits sometimes to reducing carbon emissions. In this research, how the European Green Deal affects the European and related economies and the steps taken by other countries in this regard will be examined in the scope of the US, China, Turkey, England, and Japan.

Keywords: Carbon emission, European Green Deal, European Union, Green Production, Sustainable Economy. 

Özet

İçinde yaşadığımız son yüzyılda fosil yakıtların umarsızca kullanımı iklim değişikliğinin dünyada derinden hissedilmesine neden oluyor. Daha önce emperyalist devletler bu ganimetler ve zenginliklerden yararlanıp gelişirken şimdi ise Çin kendi amaçları için yoğun oranda fosil yakıt kullanıyor. Ancak sürdürülebilirlik gibi kavramlar artık doğanın bu sömürüsünü engellemeye yetmiyor. Bu yetersizlik ise resmi makamları bazı adımları atmaya zorladı. Birleşmiş Milletler Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma Hedefleri ve Avrupa Yeşil Anlaşması bunun en önemli örnekleri arasında yer alıyor. 2019 yılında imzalanan anlaşmayla Avrupa ile ticaret yapan birçok ülke artık anlaşmanın şartlarını yerine getirmeye çalışmak zorunda. Bu, yerleşik ekonomiler için bazı zorluklar yaratırken karbon emisyonunu azaltma hedefine de katkı sağlıyor. Bu araştırmada ise Avrupa Yeşil Anlaşması’nın Avrupa ve ilgili ekonomileri nasıl etkilediği ve ABD, Çin, Türkiye, İngiltere ve Japonya gibi ülkelerin bu konuda attığı adımlar örneklendirilerek incelenecektir. 

Anahtar kelimeler: Karbon emisyonu, Avrupa Yeşil Mutabakatı, Avrupa Birliği, Yeşil üretim, Sürdürülebilir ekonomi.

Introduction

According to reports in recent years, the rate of gases emitted to the world is seriously above standards. In 2019, greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new peak and the rate of carbon dioxide reached 148 per cent of pre-industrial revolution levels with 260 per cent of methane and 123 per cent of nitrous oxide. Human activities set records for greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and the result of these are climate change (WMO, 2021). The rapid increase in the world population and the continuation of the consumption frenzy that came with the capitalist order will increase the emission of these gases with the continuity of intensive production because economies are mostly based on fossil fuels. This process that has been going on for years now causes an increase in abnormal weather conditions such as floods and storms, a decrease in biodiversity with the lost natural habitats and the melting of glaciers, and shortly, a terrible climate change crisis. When humanity begins to feel this crisis so visibly, official authorities make decisions that can bind every nation in the world to create a collective effort. The main reason why these decisions are tried to be taken internationally is that humanity has realized that they cannot manage this crisis individually and it is necessary to act collectively. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement are the most significant ones to create a sustainable economy goal. Besides all this, the European Green Deal also plays an important role. In addition to these, some the countries like Turkey, the US and some Far East countries are also taking green production steps within themselves.

It is seen that the results of the literature review on the subject, when written in Turkish, mostly focus on how the Turkish economy adapts to this agreement, what the effects will be on the Turkish economy, whether it is an opportunity or a chance. However, the results in English generally seem to touch on more general issues such as how to make the European Green Deal useful, the geopolitical implications of the agreement, resource management etc.

As a Turkish based example, since the EU is Turkey’s largest trading partner, the regulation is closely related to businesses that export high amounts from Turkey to the EU and are particularly involved in sectors such as cement, iron, steel, automotive and textile, which have high carbon emission rates. Because, if a business located in the EU imports from a country outside the EU, it will be subject to a carbon tax within the scope of the border carbon regulation during the entry of the imported product to the EU borders. Therefore, although the taxpayer of the carbon tax at the border is the importing enterprise within the EU, the actors within the EU will try to collect the tax they are obliged to pay from the exporter outside the EU, or they will prefer to import products for which carbon tax has been paid directly (Narterlaw, 2021).

As referred by Sikora (2021), The green transition and its financing can only happen where it involves both the EU and State actors and the EU citizens who will agree to bear the costs and participate in the process, notably in the framework of the announced Climate Pact. The enhanced solidarity of the green transition towards climate neutrality should be a synonym of the European Green Deal.

In this study, the qualitative method was used to analyze how economies tried to keep up with the European Green Deal because it was found to be more suitable for examining the given examples, but statistical information such as greenhouse gas emission rates was also examined to obtain general information, the quantitative method was also an auxiliary method for this study.

What is the European Green Deal?

The European Green Deal, put forward by the European Commission (EC) at the end of 2019, aims to decarbonize Europe by 2050, as the long-awaited final climate action plan of the European Union (EU); for this purpose, it envisages a radical transformation in the economy and achieving climate neutrality in the European continent. First, it should be noted that in line with such a broad and deep transformation goal, the Union must strike a reasonable balance of risks and opportunities between member states and regions (Catuti, Kustova and Egenhofer, 2020). The agreement aims to provide welfare to nature, plants, and animals as well as people. According to Ossewaarde& Ossewaarde-Lowtoo (2020), in Europe 2020 strategy (2010), Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 (2011), and Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (2011), the EC presented its green growth strategy as a pathway for overcoming the financial crisis through green stimulus, environmental policy, and green innovations. Underlying this strategy is the idea or belief that ecology and economy do not necessarily contradict each other, once “brown growth” which goes hand in hand with carbon emissions, waste production, and extractivism is transcended. The green growth discourse presumes that economy and ecology can be reconciled in a symbiotic relationship, supplanting the parasitism of an ecology-degrading industrial economy. Accordingly, from a green growth perspective, environmental protection is an investment opportunity with high returns, rather than a costly restraint. 

The European Green Deal is a process aimed at a sustainable future and economy that the EU plans to achieve in the long term, rather than a law that will be introduced and finished suddenly. Thus, new employment areas will be created, and welfare will be increased with the arrangements to be made to ensure climate neutrality. If Europe achieves these goals and creates a sustainable and competitive economy model, greenhouse gas emissions will be eliminated by 2050, economic growth will be independent of exhaustible resources, and no region will be excluded from this scope. Significant budgets are allocated for these studies, and if successful, resources will now be used efficiently, and biodiversity will be protected.

The success of the Green Deal will only be possible if the surrounding economies take steps to adapt to these goals. So, there are some initiatives that Europe wants its global partners to provide. For instance, some of these are, making buildings more energy-efficient, leaving the use of carbon, moving towards cleaner and healthier ones in public transportation and private vehicles, encouraging the industrial sector to adopt new policies and using environmentally friendly technologies (European Commission, 2021). In addition, Europe will provide extra financial assistance to countries in need of support to facilitate this transition.

Effects of Green Deal on Other World Economies

One of the most important things to think about in the European Green Deal is how other actors will respond to this collaboration request of Europe. Europe has a large part of its production based in countries in Asia such as Indonesia due to its cheap labour force. If these countries do not comply with the agreement, will Europe be able to take the risk of giving up production there? This is a controversial question.

The attitude of the USA and China in this regard is very important as they are the biggest actors as an economic power. Contrary to the EU’s sensitivity towards nature, the US is still among the countries that emit and pollute the most greenhouse gases in the world. However, with Joe Biden’s coming to power at the beginning of 2021, it has been started to talk about at least putting climate change at the forefront. However, Biden was not a supporter of the Green New Deal presented at the US Congress and was in favour of implementing his plan, “Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice” (Siegel, 2020). However, this plan is not as sharp as the European Green Deal and does not directly aim to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. He also wants a resignation from the Paris Climate Agreement. If we look at the other important factor, China, it is the country that has caused the most environmental pollution in the world in recent years. Air pollution is a very big problem in the country itself. This is one of the most important obstacles in the fight against climate change. However, with the Paris Agreement, it aims to leave greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Although they said that they will expand their green policies at the Climate Summit in China (World Resources Institute, 2020), their efforts are not enough when the country’s production potential is considered.

As a country with serious economic and commercial relations with the EU, Turkey has a Green Deal Action Plan. These are carbon regulations at the border, a green and circular economy, green finance, clean, economical, and secure energy supply, sustainable agriculture, sustainable smart transportation, combating climate change, diplomacy, European Green Deal information and awareness activities (TC. Ticaret Bakanlığı, 2021). Turkey, like Europe, emphasised the importance of the production and consumption chain and emphasised that this harmonisation process would be achieved with the cooperation of the state, the producer, and the consumer.

England, which has historically caused environmental problems today by starting the Industrial Revolution, accepted the Climate Change Act in 2008, long before the Green Deal as a single country. In 2019, it managed to reduce its carbon emission level much lower than in the 1990s, and its economy continued to grow (Gov.uk, 2021). If these are taken into consideration, the innovations that may come with the Green Deal will not affect them much, due to the green developments in England already.

As a final example, Japan is one of the most successful countries to become carbon neutral. It achieved its carbon emission targets between 2013-2019. It aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2050 with its “Green Growth Strategy” (Nuclear Engineering International, 2021). For this, all vehicles will be carbon emission-free, the use of renewable energy sources will increase, and more investments will be made in green technologies.

Conclusion

Although the European Green Deal has good aims such as preventing climate change and maintaining the livability of the world for clean and good purposes, different perspectives can be captured when the agreement is looked at politically. While Europeans did not have this awareness during their imperial period, they brutally murdered nature and took advantage of its spoils and became rich. Now, China, which has started to be known as the new superpower of the world, pollutes nature by producing carelessly. If we look at the conditions that the European Green Deal wants to be provided to be able to trade, we can also use this agreement as Europe’s self-defence mechanism against this newly emerging power. Even if it can be interpreted like that, the awareness of climate change and reducing carbon emissions that the Green Deal will bring and create in the world will be remarkable, especially after the 2050 targets are completed. Because even the countries do not apply the Green Deal terms exactly, the green policies they develop internally will parallelize the development of these economies with the Green Deal.

İrem Denizeri

European Studies Internship Programme

Bibliography:

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