An alliance has been launched in the European Parliament on the back of calls from 12 EU environment ministers who have signed an appeal for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The “green recovery alliance” was launched last Monday at the initiative of Pascal Canfin, a French centrist MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s committee on environment and public health.
In addition to the 79 MEPs from across the political spectrum, the alliance also brings together civil society groups, including 37 CEOs, 28 business associations, the European trade union confederation, 7 NGOs and 6 think tanks. It comes days after EU environment ministers launched an appeal for the European Green Deal to be placed at the heart of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery plan.
Stakeholders from the private sector who signed the appeal include the CEO’s of Ikea, H&M, Unilever, Danone, E.ON and others. Signatories say they are committed to support post-pandemic “stimulus transformation plans” that put the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss at the centre of Europe’s economic policy.
“There will be a before and after COVID-19 crisis. We are choosing to accelerate the ecological transition when the time comes to reinvest in the economy,” said Canfin. “The COVID-19 has not made the climate crisis go away. The public money that states and Europe will spend to reinvest in the economy must be consistent with the Green Deal,” he added.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented restrictions on travel, work and industry production, with the economy experiencing a crash on par with the 2008 financial crisis. The restrictions are likely to provide short-term benefits in efforts to combat the climate crisis. Experts had expected global carbon emissions from fossil fuels to rise in 2020, but new adjustments suggest that global emissions may decline by 5% to its lowest levels in a decade.
But the alliance is not about rebuilding an entire economy from scratch. In the past ten years, new technologies such as renewables, zero-emission mobility, agro-ecology, and energy efficiency have been developed which have “massively reduced” the cost of the ecological transition, the signatories say in a statement.
“After the financial crisis in 2009, we had not yet demonstrated the profitability of housing renovation, zero-emission cars were only prototypes, wind turbines cost 3 times more than today, and solar 7 times,” the statement reads.
Signatories say they are “committed to offering the necessary investment solutions, aligned with climate commitments, to revive the economy after the crisis.” They are calling for a “worldwide alliance” of politicians, decision-makers, business leaders, trade unions, and civil society groups to support a green transition after the pandemic.
“The broad support for this statement clearly shows that 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,” said Ester Asin, director of the WWF’s European Policy Office, who is among the signatories.
Also Finnish company Neste has joined this alliance of cross-party political decision-makers, businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders in a call for a Green Recovery after the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis in Europe. Investments should be aimed to accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral economy, the protection of biodiversity and the transformation of agri-food systems.
“The coronavirus pandemic is causing unforeseen consequences to people’s health and the economy. While it is important to tackle the coronavirus, we also need to look for ways to help rebuild the world after the crisis. When we plan our path to that world, we have an opportunity to build a sustainable and resilient economy and society. Now is the time to design that vision,” said Peter Vanacker, President and CEO of Neste.
“Cooperation is a key driver for transformation. We are honored to be part of the alliance, working together with 180 Members of the European Parliament, Ministers, companies and other stakeholders towards green recovery after this pandemic. Together we can create a stronger and more sustainable future,” Vanacker continued.