US And Europe Should Work Together On Climate Change And Tech Rules, Says EU Chief

According to the European Union chief executive Ursula von der Leyen, the fight against climate change should be jointly worked out by Europe and the United States, while the efforts to limit the power of big tech firms should also be done by the two parties together by framing a mutually agreed  new framework for the digital market.

“I am sure: A shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark,” the president of the European Commission said in a speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide: a set of rules based on our values, human rights and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy.”

By 2050, its net greenhouse gas emissions will be cut to zero, the EU has pledged, while US President Joe Biden has set a target of making the country a “net zero economy” by 2050.

According to estimates of scientists, achieving the target of limiting increases in global temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times so that it is possible to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change would require the entire world reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Analysts and scientists hope that if there is an alliance between Europe and the US, it would convince large greenhouse gas emitters, such as China and India, who have not yet committed to the 2050 timeline, to do so. China for example has set a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

“The United States is our natural partner for global leadership on climate change,” von der Leyen said.

A turning point for the discussion on the impact social media has on democracies was the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, according to her.

“Of course, imposing democratic limits on the uncontrolled power of big tech companies alone will not stop political violence,” von der Leyen said. “But it is an important step.”

She was referring to a draft set of rules unveiled in December which aims to rein in tech companies that control troves of data and online platforms relied on by thousands of companies and millions of Europeans for work and social interactions.

The draft showcases the frustration of the European Commission about its own antitrust cases against the tech giants, specifically the ones against Alphabet Inc’s Google, which have not been able to address the actual problem according to critics.

But that could also further detoriate EU’s relationship with the US which is already very unhappy with the attempts by Brussels to impose more taxes on US tech companies.

The importance of a global approach to dealing with tech giants was further underscored by the recent decision of the social media company Facebook to blackout news in Australia to protest against a proposed new law there which will for the social media company and Alphabet’s Google to strike commercial agreements with Australian news outlets whose content is posted on its platform or face forced arbitration, Von der Leyen said.

(Adapted from USNews.com)

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