Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

Remarks by European Commission President von der Leyen at the UN High-Level Roundtable on Climate Action

24/09/2020 - 19:07
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24 September 2020 - Video message remarks by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at the High-Level Roundtable on Climate Action convened by the UN Secretary-General

UNGA75 UvdL HL RT on Climate Action


Fellow leaders,

Dear friends,


Five years ago, the world’s nations entered into a global contract to keep the planet livable for the next generations.

Honoring that contract - the Paris Agreement - is more necessary than ever.

Its urgency is more evident with every passing day.

We see it around us, from burning forests to melting glaciers, from flooded cities to farmland, that is by far too dry.

The corona pandemic has not lowered the threat of climate change.

To the contrary!

It has made us aware of the fragility of our life on this planet.

Recovering from the pandemic will require substantial investment to get our economies going.

It will require determined action to leave no one behind.

That is why we set up a Just Transition Fund.

Let us also be determined in using this opportunity to make our economies more sustainable.

To make our ways of producing and consuming more climate-friendly.

To make our societies healthier.

The European Union is ready to take its share of the responsibility.

We have agreed to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world, by 2050.

We know, that we will not achieve that mission with business-as-usual.

We have the resolve, the plan and the investment to increase our ambition in the next decade.

The year ahead of us will determine the fate of the Paris Agreement.

Last week, I have proposed to the European Parliament that we increase our ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We want to go up from 40% to at least 55% by 2030 - compared to 1990.

We have undertaken a broad public consultation and an in-depth cost-benefit analysis.

The analysis shows that the increased 2030 target is ambitious, but achievable.

People support this ambition.

Business is asking for it.

Last week, 170 business leaders and investors – from SME’s to some of the world’s biggest companies - wrote to me calling on Europe to set a target of at least 55%.

Yes, it will require investments.

We will raise the money.

We will mobilize the investment.

The European leaders have decided to set up NextGenerationEU.

This is a 4-year 750 billion euro recovery and resilience fund that will invest in Europe’s green and digital transition for building a resilient and competitive economy.

At least 275 billion euro will be invested in pursuit of environmental and climate goals.

200 billion will be raised through Green Bonds.

This comes on top of our next multiannual budget of more than 1 trillion euro, of which 30% will be invested for climate and environment.

We also included a no-harm principle in our European budget.

This investment will be coupled with a wholesale reform of our rules and policies.

We will extend carbon pricing across the economy.

We will reform taxation.

We will promote renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.

We will stimulate the circular economy and restore nature.

I am determined for the European Union to work together with all our partners across the world.

Europe will not solve climate change alone.

We represent less than 10% of global CO2 emissions.

But we want to show that a responsible green transition will be good for people and for business.

We want to show its attraction and benefit for every nation.

We take into account our different starting positions.

We are ready to engage in multilateral collaboration.

We are ready to form high ambition coalitions with like-minded partners.

I am encouraged by President Xi’s announcement on Tuesday that China aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

And to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030.

The Paris Agreement is humanity’s insurance policy.

It is our contract with the next generation.

Keeping global warming at 1,5° is still possible if we act quickly and if we act together.

It comes with a cost.

But the cost of non-action is much higher.

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