Manifest Check: Climate ambitions and how they are dependent on geopolitics.

, by Finn Harland, Talisa Mazzoni

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

Manifest Check: Climate ambitions and how they are dependent on geopolitics.

Between 6-9 June 2024, 374 million eligible voters across 27 member states will be called to the polls to assign the 720 seats in the European Parliament for the next 5 years. With the expectation of a strong shift to the right and the consequential dilution of policies concerning climate justice, this article aims to outline the approach towards climate policies of the European political parties’ election manifestos.

Implementing the European Green Deal set the basis for one of the most ambitious legislative initiatives in the history of climate legislation, aiming for a climate-neutral continent by mobilising over one trillion euros in new capital flows and creating jobs. Despite this, the consensus around the project continues to decrease and raises concerns about the future of climate policy. So what’s the plan for the future?

With the upcoming European elections in mind, European political groups have evaluated their perspectives on climate justice and environmental transition, shaping their visions for the future of the European Green Deal.

European Climate Transformation

To achieve the Net Zero goal—reducing the EU’s carbon emissions to zero soon—there are essentially two political approaches, each with varying paces. The first is a strict, calculated approach with no tolerance for failure. The second is more flexible, relying on future technological advancements to solve transformation challenges, though there’s no guarantee these technologies will be developed in time.

Political manifestos must therefore be assessed based on the specificity of their ambitions and their pace of transformation. The energy sector, the most significant contributor to carbon emissions, is a key focus in evaluating these manifestos. According to the AR6 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the EU has to be almost climate neutral already by 2040 or earlier.

Party Classifications

    • Parties supporting the European Green Deal (Net Zero by 2050):** ❌
    • No mention** ❔
    • Parties aiming for stricter climate policies (as recommended by science):** ✅
       **Parties opposing the Green Deal and advocating restrictive measures:** 📛


While agreeing to the committed 55% emissions-reduction target and the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, EPP supports the need to not de-industrialise and “keep supporting European industry throughout this transition - from the Net-Zero Industry Act to the Critical Raw Materials Act.“.

European Greens:

Establish a Green and Social Transition Fund amounting to at least 1% of the EU’s GDP annually, to achieve 100% reliance on solar, water, wind, and geothermal energy, and phasing out fossil fuels by 2040, starting with coal by 2030.


Need to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and be climate-neutral by 2050 at the latest. “Our ultimate objective is to reach a completely renewable and clean energy mix, securing national and European interests.“.


Prioritise the implementation of energy and climate rules to reach the targets, including the 2040 target proposed by the European Commission, but “expand the scope of the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) to cover all remaining carbon-polluting sectors and develop a technology-neutral certification system for verified negative emissions.“.


Approach the goals of European Green Dreal by addressing the need to overcome neoliberalism and capitalism.


Oppose the proposed approach to the Green Deal, as “the global challenge of climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can only be tackled globally and in a market economy.”


“Commit to a Climate Neutral Economy by 2040 and to a climate-neutral energy sector by 2035. End fossil fuel subsidies, introduce an EU-wide Carbon Tax, and use the revenues to help those most affected by the green transition.“


President of ID, Marco Zanni, stated that the EU Green Deal represents “a significant threat to the long-term stability of the EU’s economic framework”.

How EU relationships with China and Russia influence climate transformation

When it comes to industrial climate transformation, the economy of every state requires good access to rare earths. Materials like neodymium and dysprosium are crucial for wind turbines, and lithium and cobalt are crucial for electric car batteries. China controls over 80-90% of the world’s production of rare earth elements (REE). This dominance extends to the mining and processing of these critical materials, giving China a central role in the global market. Therefore, a positive relationship with China but also with Russia has a significant impact on the EU’s climate transformation efforts. However, most EU parties aim to reduce dependence on China and Russia to mitigate supply chain risks. With the number of internationalised intrastate conflicts on the rise, ( the EU recognizes the danger of dependencies on the European economy. Ursula von der Leyen addressed these dependencies at the EU-China Summit 2023, stating, “It is about learning the lessons from both the global COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s energy blackmail.”

In the paper of Eurostat about the imports of REE it`s said that: „ In 2022, the EU witnessed a significant increase in the import of rare earth elements (REE+). A total of 18 thousand tonnes were imported, a 9% increase from 2021, and 7 thousand tonnes exported, a decrease of 8% compared with the previous year.“

How can the climate transformation work with less trade with China?

When comparing the EU’s need for materials with the available resources globally, it’s evident that there are numerous alternative countries with sufficient resources to secure the EU’s supply chain. However, China’s advanced capabilities in both mining and processing of rare earth elements (REE) result in significantly lower prices. Ultimately, reducing dependence on China is more a matter of cost rather than availability.

The EU parties are predicting that there are countries where scientific research is expecting a big increase in rare earth metal production. This assumption is observed in the study “Global rare earth elements projects: New developments and supply chains” , released in 2023.

“ Asia still has the largest REE resources and estimated value. But if the environmental and processing technology issue can be well addressed, the REE resource value potential of Greenland, Africa, and Europe would be shown.” Hence, the success of an economically sound climate transformation without China’s involvement remains questionable since the transformation also needs to happen very quickly.

How will the parties shape their trade relations in the future?


“The EU must implement a robust human rights policy that starts with de-risking our supply chains and increasing our self-sufficiency in a world with increasing climate instability and political tensions while acknowledging that interdependence is a key factor for a peaceful international system and a global just transition.”


“We will rebalance our relations with China, promoting our values and protecting our interests, and further cooperating to address pressing global issues.”


„Global technological leadership in the field of e-mobility will not succeed without rare earth elements from Africa, Latin America and Asia. We will promote a common European resource strategy for future innovations, identifying the existing resources worldwide and using them in Europe while promoting diversification to avoid dependencies from third countries. We will not allow Europe to be heavily reliant on Putin’s or any other autocrat’s resources in the future.“


Reduce dependency on regimes that do not share our European values using a de-risking and diversification principle. The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) agreed with China can only be revisited once Chinese counter- sanctions on European elected officials and scholars are completely removed, and when the agreement provides real commitments and results from China on human rights, democracy, labour, environment, market access and intellectual property protections for European companies.


The leader of the group Marco Zanni about that:

„The EU is looking for a coherent strategy now, when all the legislation which will put us in the hands of China has already been presented. These are all short-sighted choices which will only make the EU more dependent on China, with the risk of repeating the mistake made years ago with Russia.“


„We will prioritise de-risking and adopt a firm approach in our relationship with China. We will also seek to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO), and foster dynamic partnerships with strategic allies, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and in Latin America as well as the Indo-Pacific Region to propel global growth.“


Not mentioned in the manifesto.


Not mentioned in the manifesto.

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