With the EU’s New Green Deal, the ECB ‘exploring every avenue’ in the fight against climate change, Macrons €15bn pledge to tackle the climate crisis, and a €175bn green revolution for Scotland, Europe is taking the climate crisis seriously.
Following several blows to the climate and cleantech community, namely and most obviously the year-long postponement of COP26, the community is bouncing back and Europe is taking the lead. Set to have been held in Glasgow in November 2020, COP26 aims to encourage geopolitical solutions to challenging climate change.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, battling the climate crisis appears to have a new global urgency. This has coincided with the realisation of the social and economic benefits that come with the implementation of cleantech and a focus on sustainability.
Within the past few weeks, a number of key developments across Europe have cemented the reality of a cleaner future.
1. EU Green Deal
Introduced in late 2019 by the European Commission, the European Green Deal “resets the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges”. Pressing its importance, the European Commission described the climate crisis as “this generation’s defining task”.
“Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent,” the Deal aims to transform the EU into “a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy”. They will achieve this by having no net GHG emissions by 2050, decoupling economic growth from resource use, and by leaving no person or place behind.
By proposing a European Climate Law back in March, the EU is admirably attempting to convert political commitment to the climate into a legal obligation and incentive for investment.
Throughout 2020, the Commission has been introducing investment plans, industrial strategies, and an action plan for the circular economy. Most recently, in early July, the Commission introduced EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen. This development aims to set the precedent for a decarbonised, efficient and connected energy sector.
2. European Central Bank fighting climate change
Last week, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), announced a new €2.8tn asset purchase scheme with the intention to pursue green objectives. By also promising to re-evaluate operations to integrate changes to aid the fight against climate change, Europe appears to be setting the precedent for achieving a cleaner future.
An interview with Lagarde by the Financial Times implied the deployment of the asset purchase scheme alongside green policy objectives. Already a member of the Network for Greening the Financial System(NGFS), such developments would make the ECB the first central bank to integrate green objectives into its program.
Lagarde said, “I want to explore every avenue available in order to combat climate change”.
“Through our strategy review, we will determine where and how the issue of climate change and the fight against climate change can actually have an impact on our policies,” she went on to suggest.
3. Macron’s pledge to tackle the climate crisis
Good news came for the cleantech community at the end of last month as French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced the €15bn pledge to tackle climate change.
The measures come following a ‘green wave’ in local elections. These new measures are planned to make serious changes over the next two years; one of which being a referendum on whether to introduce “ecocide”, or the criminalisation of harming the environment.
Macron diplomatically accepted all but 3 recommendations out of the 149 put forwards by the French Citizen’s Commission for the Climate. Part of a new democratic experiment, the Commission was asked to define the government’s environmental policy, with the overarching intention to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 – ahead of the Paris Accord’s goals.
4. Building back better across the UK
Alongside UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s commitment to green recovery post-COVID through “build[ing] back and build[ing] back greener,” it appears that Europe has got a fever for taking serious steps in sustainable and clean development.
Not only this, but the potential for a £175bn green revolution across Scotland will facilitate economic recovery. This green revolution will create 100,000 jobs and pay for itself, according to think tank Common Weal.
Across Europe, huge leaps are being made to seriously halt climate change despite the postponement of COP26. With the reduction of GHG emissions and overtaking the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, Europe really is taking climate change seriously and striving for a cleaner future.