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Can the coronavirus crisis be a catalyst for climate action?

Wednesday, 06 May 2020


Diederik Samsom
Head of Cabinet to European Commission Executive Vice-President


Annika Hedberg
Head of Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programme, European Policy Centre

While governments are focused on addressing the health ramifications of the COVID 19 crisis as their first priority, the wider climate and sustainability crises have not disappeared. In fact, greater sustainability can be an important part of the solution to the crisis. Previous economic crises have shown that once economies recover, businesses start producing, once again, and consumption rises once more, even accelerating the increase in emissions. Thus, it is in the EU’s interest to ensure that the recovery from the crisis benefits from and contributes to the greening of the European economy. Arguably, the ongoing crisis offers an opportunity for the continent to be more prepared to address the climate crisis and strive for climate neutrality, that is essential for the well-being and survival of  people, business and the planet in the long-term.

Diederik Samson, Head of Cabinet to European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, discussed how the COVID-19 crisis can be used as a catalyst to get the EU onto a more sustainable track and accelerate efforts towards climate neutrality. Issues covered included the immediate need for jobs and growth, the importance of just transition, and role for public money in leveraging private investment. Some areas that were identified as key areas for action include renovation, energy system integration, shift to a hydrogen economy, eMobility, electric vehicles, circular economy and digitalisation.

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