Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

We are running out of time to limit climate change to the 1.5 degree pathway set out in the Paris Agreement.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization warned that there is a 40 percent chance that the yearly average global temperature would reach 1.5 degree level in at least one of the next five years. And there is a 90 percent probability that one of those next five years could be the warmest ever on record.

COVID initially led to lower emissions as a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

But it is becoming clear that this was a temporary lull, with carbon dioxide emissions now rising again.

Financial stability, too, is at risk. There are the physical risks from the impact of climate change, like rising sea levels and more natural disasters like heatwaves.

Then there are also the transition risks: the risk of a shock if the move towards sustainability is not well-managed, if banks are too exposed to a sudden fall in the price of fossil fuels, for example.

Our societies and economies are not yet ready to weather these impacts.

We want to help the economy to recover as quickly as possible from the COVID crisis.

But the recovery must be as sustainable as possible.

Our economies and societies were ill prepared for a pandemic and we have paid a high price in terms of illness, deaths and economic costs. We need to make sure that they are ready for climate change.

We must learn the hard lessons of the pandemic in order to be ready for future health crises but also more broadly for sustainability. We need to make sure that the economic and financial system is resilient. And we need to harness our resources towards building a greener, more sustainable Europe.

The European Green Deal already sets a clear and ambitious direction of travel. We want to be climate neutral by 2050. And we want to cut emissions by 55 percent already by 2030 – in less than 9 years’ time.

Now we need to implement the Green Deal – which means we need to transform all parts of our economy.

The financial system has a key role to play. Finance itself needs to become green – but it also needs to finance the transition to sustainability of the wider economy.

The EU has taken major steps in sustainable finance to enable finance to play its full part in the transition to sustainability.

Our sustainable finance toolkit which includes the EU Taxonomy increases transparency and clarity about what economic activities and investments are green.

We’ve also recently proposed the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. That will allow companies report clear, comparable information on what impact things like climate risks have on their business – as well as their own impact on society and the environment.

Now the Commission is working on a renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy to provide a roadmap to increase private investment in sustainability. It will look at how to empower companies to move towards sustainable activities. And it will reinforce the need to make climate and environmental risks mainstream in the financial system.

One lesson we can already take from the COVID crisis is the importance of international solidarity. After a difficult start, the EU response to the health crisis has been based on solidarity, both inside and outside the EU. We have led the global response. Out of 700 million doses produced in the EU since December, about half have been exported to over 90 countries.

Like the pandemic, climate change is a global problem. And markets are global. So sustainable finance needs to be global too.

The EU is leading the global sustainable finance discussion. We set up and co-chair the International Platform on Sustainable Finance. We want to bring policy-makers together so that international work is both coherent and ambitious. (The members represent over half the world’s emissions, GDP and population.)

We’re also active participants in the G7 and G20, and we are looking forward to COP 26 later in the year.

I started my speech by saying that we are running out of time to limit the impact of climate change. But that should not lead to pessimism and resignation.

Rather, it should lead to a renewed determination to work together and step up our action to meet our ambitious targets.

We need to limit climate change – and we need to make our economies and societies resilient to its impact.

The COVID crisis has shown that we are not yet resilient – but the crisis and now the recovery present opportunities to become resilient.

Thank you for your attention, and I wish you a fruitful discussion.