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President von der Leyen at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue: 'There can be no back-sliding after the pandemic'




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On 16 March, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) delivered a speech at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue. During the speech, she pointed out the benefits for the European economy of the clean energy transition, saying: “We want to reconcile the way we produce and do business with the health of our planet. Because what is good for the planet is good for business and good for us all.” Speaking about the European Green Deal, President von der Leyen highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic makes caring for the planet all the more relevant: “The European Green Deal is as important today as it has been before COVID-19. If anything, it has become even more important. There is increasing evidence that the loss of biodiversity is one of the root causes of this global pandemic. And while much of the world's activity froze during lockdowns and shutdowns, our planet continued to get hotter. Climate change is the massive crisis beyond COVID-19.”

The president insisted that the Green Deal and the economic recovery must go hand in hand: “Our European Green Deal is our strategy for sustainable growth. Now it is also our roadmap out of the crisis. One third of the investments from our Recovery Plan, NextGenerationEU, will finance the goals set out in the European Green Deal.” In particular, she mentioned: “With NextGenerationEU, we will invest in clean hydrogen as never before. Clean hydrogen is a perfect means towards our goal of climate neutrality. Clean hydrogen can: power heavy industries, propel our cars, trucks and planes, store seasonal energy and heat up our homes. All of this with almost zero emissions. Clean hydrogen is the way to go.”

President von der Leyen also elaborated on the steps that the EU will take in the coming months: “This is why, by this summer, we will revise our entire climate and energy legislation to make it ‘fit for 55'. We will enhance the EU Emissions Trading System. We will come forward with proposals to boost renewable energy and improve energy efficiency; and we want to take green financing to the next level. Because to achieve our 2030 goal, we need to boost green investment.” Finally, the President emphasised the fact that this must be a shared effort and that the EU is ready to lead: “We stand ready for global leadership on climate change with our partners. A shared commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark. That would be a powerful message in the run-up to the COP26, the next UN Climate Change Conference.”

The full speech is available here and it can be watched again here.

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