(Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s climate commissioner-designate pledged to complete the bloc’s plan to reduce emissions if he’s permanently approved for the post and vowed more ambition globally on environmental issues.
“I want to assure you that continuity is in place on the entire Green Deal,” said Wopke Hoekstra, who was previously the Dutch foreign minister, at a hearing of the European Parliament’s environment committee. “In my own portfolio, I aim to swiftly conclude all pending negotiations.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed Hoekstra as the new commissioner in charge of climate action after his compatriot Frans Timmermans resigned last month to lead the Netherlands’ left alliance in elections. If approved by the Parliament and member states, Hoekstra will oversee climate regulation to turn the Green Deal — a strategy for Europe to accelerate economy-wide pollution cuts — into reality.
The Parliament is set to make a preliminary recommendation on the appointment at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, environment committee chair Pascal Canfin posted on X late Monday. A potential endorsement would need to be confirmed by a plenary vote Thursday. Another option the assembly may pursue is an additional hearing.
Hoekstra’s pledges come as governments across the continent scale back plans to reduce greenhouse gases for fear of angering voters already bitter over high inflation and sluggish economic growth. The pushback occurs as the European Parliament gears up for elections in June 2024, with the Green Deal set to be one of the hottest topics in political campaigns.
The commissioner-designate said he would act “in line” with advice by the EU scientific board to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 90% by 2040. While Europe is planning to propose a law on its emissions-reduction target for the next decade only after the elections, the commission is going to publish an outline of options on the new goal in the first quarter of next year.
If endorsed, Hoekstra will lead the bloc’s delegation to the United Nations’ COP28 climate conference in Dubai later this year. He also wants to pursue more green ambition globally, saying he would explore measures including an international jet fuel tax, a maritime levy and a fossil fuel tax.
(Updates with EP decision timeline in the fourth paragraph.)
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