Niue and the EU

The European Green Deal: EU's Response to Climate Change

Suva, Fiji, 16/12/2019 - 03:09, UNIQUE ID: 191216_2
Op-Eds

On 18th December, 2019, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen presented the European Green Deal – a roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all. Below is an Op-ed by: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Do we, humans, want to continue living well and safely on this planet? Humanity faces an existential threat – the whole world is beginning to see. Forests burn from America to Australia. Deserts are advancing across Africa and Asia. Rising sea levels threaten European cities, as well as Pacific island communities. Mankind has seen such phenomena before, but never at this speed.

Following the devastation of TC Winston in 2016, Fiji has stepped up its international efforts of advocating for strong climate action and calling for increased global ambitions to implement the Paris Agreement on climate and aiming to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.  

In the same spirit, today, less than two weeks into the mandate of the new European Commission, we present our roadmap for a European Green Deal. Our goal is to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, slowing down global warming and mitigating its effects. This is a task for our generation and the next, but change must begin right now – and we know we can do it. The European Green Deal that we present today is Europe's new growth strategy. It will cut emissions while also creating jobs and improving our quality of life.

It is the green thread that will run through all our policies – from transport to taxation, from food to farming, from industry to infrastructure. With our Green Deal we want to invest in clean energy and extend emission trading, but we will also boost the circular economy and preserve Europe’s biodiversity.

The European Green Deal is not just a necessity: it will be a driver of new economic opportunities. Many European firms are already going green. They are cutting their carbon footprint and discovering the clean technologies. They understand that there are planetary boundaries: European companies of all sizes understand that everyone has to take care of our common home. They also know that if they discover the sustainable solutions of tomorrow, this will give them first mover advantage.

What businesses and change-makers need from us is easy access to financing. To pull this off, we will deliver a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan. It will  support one trillion euros of investment over the next decade. We will work hand in hand with the European Investment Bank, Europe’s climate bank.

Next March, we will propose the first-ever European Climate Law to chart the way ahead and make it irreversible: investors, innovators and entrepreneurs need clear rules to plan their long-term investments.

While we will promote transformation in how we produce and consume, live and work, we must also protect and accompany those who risk being hit harder by such change. This transition must work for all or it will not work at all. I will propose to set up a Just Transition Fund – and I want it to mobilise, together with the leverage of the European Investment Bank and private money, one hundred billion euros in investment over the next seven years. We will make sure that we help those European regions who will have to take a bigger step, so that we leave no one behind.

Across Europe, people young and old are not only asking for climate action. They are already changing their lifestyle: think of the commuters who take the bike or public transport, parents who choose reusable diapers, companies that renounce single-use plastics and bring sustainable alternatives to the market. Many of us are part of this European and global movement for climate, and Fiji plays an important role in these efforts as one of the first countries to adopt a long-term strategy to achieve net zero emissions before 2050 and preparing a new Climate Change Law to enshrine the Paris Agreement commitments. Like other Pacific Island Countries, Fiji is committed to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, while working to protect vulnerable communities and infrastructure from the devastating effects of tropical cyclones, floods and sea-level rises.

Nine European citizens out of ten ask for decisive climate action. Our children rely on us. Europeans want their Union to act at home and lead abroad. In these very days, the whole world has gathered in Madrid for the United Nations’ conference on climate, to discuss collective action against global warming.

The European Green Deal is Europe’s response to people’s call for action. It is a deal by Europe, for Europe and for the world. We are ready to contribute with our European Green Deal to a Global Green Deal.