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What's the Green Deal Worth to Europe?

Already last week, various initiatives called for joint sustainable action for Europe to get economy - hit hard by COVID-19 - back on its feet. In the meantime, a majority of European states are rooting for this idea.

Do we want to go back there? (Image: Pixabay)Do we want to go back there? (Image: Pixabay)

Will the EU's Green Deal be buried in the wake of the Corona crisis - or will the momentum be used to finally put the future economic order on a green footing? A majority of EU member states are now in favour of a sustainable way out of the crisis.

Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ireland recently joined the call from 13 other countries to keep the climate and environmental crisis high on the political agenda when it comes to developing recovery plans to deal with the economic impact of COVID-19. These voices now have a clear majority at EU level and reinforce the considerable momentum behind the EU Green Deal.

In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, 17 out of 27 countries in Europe now want an accelerated transition to renewable energy sources. Various initiatives call on European leaders to put the Green Deal at the heart of Europe's economic response to the pandemic.

Governments around Europe should align their stimulus and recovery packages with the long-term vision of the EU Green Deal. And create a cleaner, healthier and more resilient Europe,” says Giles Dickson, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association WindEurope.

In the meantime, various initiatives are underway in the individual European countries to increase the pressure on their own governments to speak with a common voice against established lobbyists.

In an open letter signed by over 180 organisations and companies, the German government is called upon to combine economic recovery with a climate stimulus package: "Together we call on the German government:

  • it is imperative to adhere to the climate targets and create planning security so that investments in the energy transition can be continued
  • strengthen the resilience of the German and European economy to the crisis by investing in the economy, also within the framework of the European Green Deal, and
  • adopt the necessary government investments and investment support for a rapid economic recovery, including incentive programmes for energy efficiency, renewable electricity, heating and cooling, climate-friendly mobility, climate-neutral buildings and highly efficient industrial processes".

Meanwhile, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published its Global Renewables Outlook and calculated that it is worthwhile at various levels to reconcile an economic upturn with climate protection goals. According to the new report, global decarbonisation would cost 4.3 trillion dollars a year in investment by 2050. These investments would mainly go into renewable energy, electrification, infrastructure and energy efficiency. The report makes it very clear that the payback for accelerating the introduction of renewable energy and efficiency measures is many times greater than the cost. Global decarbonization would save up to $169 trillion in environmental and health costs.

It is worth investing in sustainability right now (Image: Pixabay)

IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said: “Governments are facing a difficult task of bringing the health emergency under control while introducing major stimulus and recovery measures. The crisis has exposed deeply embedded vulnerabilities of the current system. IRENA’s Outlook shows the ways to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient economies by aligning short-term recovery efforts with the medium-and long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.”

Giles Dickson makes it clear that it would not be the first time in history that such grand ambitions were linked together: “Thinking big in times of crisis pays off. Look at the Marshall Plan. Or the US New Deal. Big ideas, big economic impact. The Green Deal gives us the idea – climate-neutrality. And we have the tools – clean energy is cheap, it creates jobs. It just needs Governments to embrace the opportunity. It’s great that 17 out of 27 EU member states now support this, including several in central and Eastern Europe. That’s a clear mandate for the EU to pursue an ambitious green recovery.”

Now, words must be matched by deeds.

Katrin Radtke
Europe, EU, Green Deal, government, country, initiative, energy transition, renewable energy, pressure, recovery, economy, idea, ambition, sustainability

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