The coronavirus crisis has not made the EU’s Green Deal programme obsolete. On the contrary – it should be seen as means to bring Europe’s economy back on its feet during and after the crisis, says Karoliina Rasi, Senior Adviser at the Brussels office of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK.
“The goal of Europe’s Green Deal is to be the EU’s new growth strategy guiding European business in a more sustainable and greener direction. Its’ goal is to have no greenhouse gas net emissions in 2050 and ensure that economic growth is decoupled from resource use. New investment is to be channeled into green technology, new and sustainable, eco-friendly innovations and businesses.
During the Finnish Presidency Summit in December 2019, all Member States except Poland committed to the goals of the Green Deal, especially making the EU climate-neutral by 2050. Member States also had to submit their own plans for the transition to a low-carbon economy, so that by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 40% of 1990 levels. The Commission also published its proposal for a new Climate Law in March. It would create a legal obligation for Member States to commit to emission reduction targets and would allow the Commission to act if Member States are not able to apply their legislation properly and in a timely manner. The Commission has proposed a more ambitious emission reduction target for 2030, which would increase the current target of 40% to 50% or even 55% from 1990 levels. In addition, discussion about the introduction of new sectors to the emissions trading system, that now are outside of it, has also taken place.
Just as the Green Deal began to advance through its accompanying measures and legislative proposals, the world’s attention turned to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and its resolution, away from environmental and climate issues. Unquestionably the most important thing is to ensure that those in need of treatment receive effective treatment in a timely manner. It is also essential to ensure that small, medium, and big companies that suffer from these extraordinary coronavirus times, receive financial and other support. It is equally important to rescue businesses, in addition to avoiding mass unemployment, which could be caused by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
Concerns about what will happen to the Green Deal now have been raised. Are we tempted to delay the Green Deal because of the coronavirus response? Are we tempted to forget about the green goals now that we need to be saving the economy, companies and employees first? Or could we use the economic stimulus so that it is compatible with the Green Deal goals?
The Commission has suggested that the Green Deal should not be overlooked or delayed despite the coronavirus crisis. The investments that Member States are now making in the economy could be focused on projects that create new economic opportunities while considering the climate and environmental impacts. In the middle of the coronavirus crisis, Finnish industry-sectors are still preparing low-carbon maps, which should be ready by the summer of 2020. Finnish industries support the Commission’s 2050 climate neutrality target. Climate action needs to be turned into positive opportunities, as low-carbon business will continue to benefit businesses, workers and the environment alike.
The common message from EU Member States after the March Summit was also that, once the coronavirus crisis is over, we must return to normal operations and sustainable growth as soon as possible. This requires a coordinated exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment. Member States emphasized that everything should be learned from the crisis and that the Green Deal programme should be followed to bring the economy back on its feet.”