EU governments rally behind green recovery

Posted on 09 April 2020

WWF welcomes a letter signed by the ministers of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, in which they urge to apply the European Green Deal as “roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy”.
The letter* is the latest of a series of recent statements from all corners of politics and industry rallying behind a green economic recovery. Similar calls have been made by energy companies, Members of the European Parliament, the Club of Rome, NGOs, and many more. The European Council had also called on the EU to prepare an economic recovery plan that would integrate the green transition.

“By putting the European Green Deal at the heart of our recovery, the signatories demonstrate a great level of responsibility and foresight. This is the leadership Europe needs right now!” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Europe’s response to the Covid-19 crisis must put us firmly on the path to a truly sustainable, climate-neutral and just economy - for the sake of the environment, but also for building greater resilience of our societies and our economy.”

Several critical elements for recovery measures at national and EU levels are confirmed in the letter, including a recognition that keeping the momentum of European Green Deal will “deliver on the twin benefits of stimulating economies and creating jobs while accelerating the green transition in a cost efficient way”, and a warning that “we cannot afford setbacks that can have detrimental effects on our climate, biodiversity and environment as well as on human health and our economies.” 

In the letter, ministers also urge to “withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come”, which in practice would rule out any subsidies or bailouts going to high-carbon economic activities, such as coal mining, fossil fuel exploration, airport infrastructure or motorways and highways. This is fully in line with WWF’s own recommendations for a sustainable and just recovery, published yesterday.

The signatories are also calling for an increased EU 2030 emissions target before the end of the year, and to adhere to the timetable of the Paris climate agreement despite the delay of COP26. WWF has long advocated for the 2030 target to be increased to 65% by September 2020 in order to stay within the 1.5 C objective agreed in Paris.

“We call all EU governments to sign on to this letter. Importantly, the pledges must now be put into practice - both at EU and national levels. This is not the time for empty promises to European citizens and businesses, so concrete action must now follow,” said Ester Asin. “The EU must unite at this difficult time, and send a strong political signal to people, industry and decision-makers around the world that this crisis will not throw us off our chosen path of sustainability.”

* France, Germany and Greece have now also signed the letter